The agency that guards Canada’s borders is putting would-be travellers on notice: if you’re not eligible to enter the country now, you won’t be on Monday.
That’s the clear message from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) as it prepares to deal with an influx of visitors next week once the federal government begins its preliminary easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
As of Monday, fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents will be exempt from quarantine requirements when they enter the country.
However, the exemption only applies to those eligible travellers who have gone 14 days since receiving a full course of one of the four vaccines approved for use in Canada.
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It also requires travellers to use the ArriveCAN app or online service prior to departure to log their vaccination details, and the results of a negative COVID-19 test conducted no more than three days before their arrival.
“If you were unable to come to Canada on July 4 of this year, you can’t come in on July 5 — there’s been no change to all of the restrictions and the provisions that have been issued on that front,” said Denis Vinette, CBSA vice-president, travellers branch.
“However, for those that can come to Canada, it’s a very cautious, early first step in starting to delay or remove some requirements at the border.”
Travellers who arrive in Canada before Monday are still required to quarantine.
Vinette said the agency is anxious to ensure people understand what is changing and what is not in order to prevent excessive delays or tie-ups at border control points.
“I think we can expect, certainly in the early days, individuals believing that, you know, July 5 is here, Canada is now open for tourism, recreation and things of that nature. That is not the case,” he said.
“We’ve prepared our front-line staff, who’ve been having to deal with this since the onset, for those types of scenarios.”
The ArriveCAN portal can be accessed either via the Apple or Android app or online via the federal government’s website at canada.ca. Travellers are required to use the latest version of the app, which will be updated when the regulations change.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he’s confident the CBSA has the tools and the personnel required to deal with the changes Monday, adding that the government’s priority will always be the safety of its citizens.
“I think it’s really important that we are moving forward on allowing people who are currently allowed to come into Canada to be able to do so and not have to quarantine anymore, because they’re double-vaccinated,” said Trudeau, who received his second vaccine shot — this time Moderna, after getting AstraZeneca-Oxford for his first — on Friday.
“For others, we will be looking at how this works before we open up to next steps, but we will continue to put first and foremost the safety and security of Canadians at the top of everything we do.”
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The mutual travel restrictions between Canada and the United States — which prohibit all discretionary travel between the two countries while continuing to allow the movement of trade, essential workers and international students — are due to expire July 21.
It’s too soon to say how the rules might evolve by then, Trudeau said.
“When we start reopening so Americans and others who are fully vaccinated can come into Canada will depend on how this goes — on the data we collect, on how we’re able to keep Canadians safe even as we make adjustments to the rules.”
Now is not the time to be cavalier, he added: Yukon is dealing with its largest spike of cases since the pandemic began, despite having more than 70 per cent of its population fully vaccinated.
“Every step of the way, we’re going to make sure we keep Canadians safe.”
What’s happening across Canada
As of 8 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 1,416,319 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 6,431 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 26,338 earlier Friday. More than 38 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country.
British Columbia reported 84 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths on Friday. The figures come a day after the province moved into Step 3 of its reopening plan.
In the Prairies, active cases in Alberta fell to 895, the province’s fewest since mid-July last year; Manitoba‘s deputy chief provincial public health officer said the delta coronavirus variant has spread to all five of the province’s health regions; and 45 per cent of eligible residents in Saskatchewan are now fully vaccinated.
Ontario registered 484 new cases and 28 deaths from the last two days as the province advanced vaccine eligibility to speed up second doses for youth 12-17 on Friday.
Quebec confirmed 69 new cases and three more deaths. Meanwhile, festivals and outdoor events in the province are now allowed up to 5,000 attendees starting today, just in time for Stanley Cup final viewing parties.
In the Atlantic, Newfoundland and Labrador premier tweeted that 80 per cent of the province’s eligible population has now received one dose of a vaccine; Nova Scotia says international travellers can start entering the province again on Monday; and New Brunswick recorded four new infections on Friday.
In the Northwest Territories, mask requirements and appointments at many Yellowknife institutions — such as the public library and pools — will be lifted on Monday.
What’s happening around the world
As of Friday, more than 182.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to data published by Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.9 million.
In Asia, India has surpassed 400,000 deaths from COVID-19 — half of them coming in the past two months — placing the country hit hard by the delta variant behind only the U.S. and Brazil in confirmed fatalities.
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In the Americas, municipalities across Brazil on Friday denied a newspaper report that said health ministry data showed cities administered at least 26,000 expired AstraZeneca vaccine shots.
In Europe, Russian authorities have reported a record 679 new coronavirus deaths, a fourth day in a row with the highest daily death toll in the pandemic.
In Africa, a new wave of COVID-19 driven by the delta variant is sweeping across the continent where cases, hospital admissions and deaths are increasing.
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