As Canada’s first dose vaccination rate continues to climb above 70 percent, on July 19, 2021, Canada announced long-awaited changes to the border closure between Canada and the United States, which have been in effect from March, 2020. Today’s announcement, which followed a series of changes to the quarantine and testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers effective July 5, 2021, also marked an end date for various on-entry and post-arrival measures for those international travellers who were permitted entry despite the border closures.
These changes, effective August 9, 2021, at 12:01 am EDT, mark the beginning of a new evidence-based approach to cross-border movement. While the below should not be taken as legal advice and travellers should consult governmental authorities prior to scheduling their travel plans, those planning to enter Canada on or after August 9, 2021, should be aware of the following changes:
Loosening of travel ban between Canada and the United States:
The restriction on non-optional/discretionary travel between Canada and the United States will be lifted for US citizens or permanent residents, residing in and entering directly from the United States. To be eligible for entry, travellers must show proof of full vaccination, completed at least 14 days prior to entering Canada. This exemption also covers certain unvaccinated dependent children.
Increasing port of arrival options for international travellers: As soon as possible after August 9, 2021, International commercial flights may begin landing at five additional airports:
- Halifax Stanfield International Airport;
- Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport;
- Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport;
- Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport; and
- Edmonton International Airport.
This authorization will widen the port of entry options for many international travellers, who’s entry was previously restricted to Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport.
On-arrival testing: Fully-vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to undergo a day-one test on arrival to Canada as a mandatory requirement, but maybe selected to complete one at random. Combined with the July 5, 2021 exemption from the day-8 test for fully vaccinated travellers, those with a Canada-approved vaccination record will require only the pre-arrival test.
Quarantine requirement for dependent children: Provided that their parents are fully vaccinated, dependent children under 12 years old or those with a mental or physical condition will no longer be required to complete a 14-day quarantine following entry. They must, however, avoid group settings such as camps and daycares for 14 days following entry. They must also undergo day-one, and day-8 COVID-19 testing.
Government-authorized hotel quarantine: Finally, as of August 9, 2021, the requirement for non-vaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers arriving in Canada by air to complete up to 3 days in a government authorized hotel will end. Thereafter, travellers who are required to quarantine will be able to proceed directly to their place of quarantine without the requirement to await their day one test results in a government-authorized hotel. They will continue to be required to complete a day one and day eight COVID-19 test following entry.
Canada has also indicated that the above changes will inform a further reopening decision for all international travellers, to be made prior to September 7, 2021. Finally, today’s announcements also confirmed the following COVID-19 entry measures will remain in effect for the foreseeable future, regardless of vaccination status:
Submission of pre-departure data: the ArriveCAN app will continue to be the primary source of data submission for all travellers. A pre-departure filing via ArriveCAN will continue to be required for all travellers regardless of citizenship, subject to limited exemptions for accessibility;
Pre-entry negative COVID-19 test: Canada will continue to require each international traveller to present the negative results of a COVID-19 molecular test taken prior to arrival. This information must be provided electronically through the Arrive-CAN app;
No direct flights from India to Canada: Transport Canada’s ban on direct flights from India to Canada will also remain in effect until at least August 21, 2021. A reassessment will be completed prior to this date.
Travellers should be aware that these rules are to be read alongsidepre-existing entry requirements, which mandate all international travellers permitted entry to log the results of a negative pre-entry COVID-19 test, proof of vaccination as applicable, as well as a suitable quarantine plan regardless of exemption status.
As the requirements for entry to Canada and post-arrival measures change, it is now more important than ever that travellers arriving at Canadian ports of entry arrive well-documented and with knowledge of their particular exemption status.