Canada will start cautiously lifting border restrictions for fully vaccinated citizens and other eligible people on July 5 but US and other foreign travelers will still be excluded, the government said on Monday.
From 11:59pm EST on July 5 (03:59 GMT on July 6), those who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will no longer have to spend time in quarantine. The relaxation of the measures applies to Canadians and permanent residents.
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Officials said those travellers must have two doses of a vaccine approved by Canada, provide a negative COVID-19 test from 72 hours before arrival, take a second test upon arrival, and have a quarantine plan in the event the arrival test comes back positive.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the first phase of easing border measures will continue to restrict entry to Canada for foreign nationals who want to enter for nonessential reasons.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra also said a flight ban between Canada and India will remain in place until July 21 but a flight ban with Pakistan will be removed.
With vaccinations on the rise and sunny weather outside, more activities are becoming available to all Canadians this summer. Know how best to stay #COVIDwise by following local public health guidelines.
— Dr. Theresa Tam (@CPHO_Canada) June 20, 2021
The flight bans were imposed after an increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant first identified in India.
The government said fully vaccinated Canadian travellers who want to be considered for the quarantine exemption and reduced testing requirements will be required to provide evidence of their vaccination status by uploading supporting documentation into what is called the ArriveCAN app or by signing in online at a government website.
The government is eliminating the need for fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents who are air travellers to spend three days quarantining in an authorised hotel upon arriving in the country.
🚨 NEW: As of July 5th, fully vaccinated Canadians, PRs and people currently eligible to travel to Canada will not need to quarantine, go to a quarantine hotel, or get a Day 8 COVID test if they are fully vaccinated pic.twitter.com/rNgIBYZINy
— Irek Kusmierczyk (@Irek_K) June 21, 2021
Canadians who return home now through the land border must quarantine at home or elsewhere for 14 days and those who arrive by plane must quarantine at a government-mandated hotel for up to three days while they wait for a COVID-19 test to come back negative. Air travellers also have quarantine at home or elsewhere after the hotel stay.
Officials have said they would like 75 percent of eligible Canadian residents to be fully vaccinated before advising that border restrictions be loosened for tourists and business travellers who are not citizens or permanent residents.
The Canadian government expects to have enough vaccine delivered for 80 percent of eligible Canadians to be fully vaccinated by the end of July.
“We need to make sure that a substantial majority of Canadians are fully vaccinated,” Blair said.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said unvaccinated children travelling with vaccinated parents will have to quarantine at home even if they are not eligible for vaccines. “Undoubtedly this will be challenging for families that want to travel,” she said.
The border between Canada and the US remains closed to all nonessential travel. The restrictions were announced in March 2020, in the early months of the pandemic and have been extended every month since.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced Friday that border restrictions on nonessential travel with the US have been extended until July 21 as Canada works to get a higher percentage of Canadians fully vaccinated. The move was made in coordination with the US.
There are growing calls in the US to open its border for nonessential travel like tourism, but less than 25 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated.