With the decline in the number of COVID cases, the Government of Canada has begun to ease its border measures for entry into the country. As a first step, Canada plans to allow fully vaccinated authorized travelers to avoid quarantine, the hotel stayover and post-arrival testing starting July 5, 2021, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. This article highlights the various easing measures as well as the criteria for exemption for fully vaccinated authorized travelers.

Exemption from Quarantine, Hotel Stayover and Post-Arrival Testing

As described in the most recent changes to Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations), effective July 5, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, a fully vaccinated person authorized to enter Canada may be exempted from undergoing quarantine, undergoing post-arrival testing on the eighth day following arrival and staying in an approved hotel upon arrival in Canada.

For a person to be considered fully vaccinated, he or she must have received all doses of a vaccine series or combination of vaccines against COVID-19 that is approved by the Government of Canada. At this time, these are the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen).

In addition, the vaccines must have been administered at least 14 days prior to arrival in Canada and the traveler will need to have supporting documentation (in hard copy or digitally via the ArriveCAN application) attesting to the fact that he or she has been vaccinated, in English or French (if the documentation is in another language, a certified translation of the original will be required).

Finally, the individual entering the country must also be asymptomatic and have an appropriate quarantine plan in place so that he or she can comply with the plan in the event he or she is denied the exemption.

Maintaining Pre-Arrival and Post-Arrival COVID Testing

At this stage, despite being fully vaccinated, it will still be necessary for all travelers to have a negative result in hand and to test for COVID upon arrival in the country.

Furthermore, all travelers are required to comply with existing public health measures, such as wearing a mask in public areas.

No Exemption for Partially Immunized Travelers and Children under 12 Years of Age

For travelers who are not fully vaccinated, Canada's current border measures remain unchanged. They must continue to comply with the current testing requirements as well as the quarantine requirement and the three-night stayover in an approved hotel. This includes children under 12 years of age who are not eligible for vaccines, who will be required to isolate themselves for 14 days as well. However, unaccompanied minors and minors whose accompanying persons are exempted from the hotel stayover are also exempted from the hotel stayover.

At this time, a person who has contracted COVID-19 and subsequently received a dose of vaccine is not eligible for this exemption announced by the federal government - even though some jurisdictions consider only one dose of vaccine to be necessary for those who have contracted COVID.

Non-Essential Travel Restrictions Remain

More generally, it is important to note that the Government of Canada is maintaining temporary restrictions on discretionary (non-essential) travel from abroad until at least July 21, 2021. As a result, only those travelers who are currently permitted to enter Canada - Canadian citizens, Canadian permanent residents, persons registered under the Indian Act and foreign nationals who are authorized to enter Canada under certain conditions - may currently enter Canada.

As the epidemiological situation continues to improve and the vaccination of the Canadian population continues to progress, there will be opportunities for further relaxation by the Canadian government for the benefit of travelers.