Canada border still closed, but Canada loosens some restrictions

Carrie Guzman
June 22, 2021

Officials have said they would like 75% of eligible Canadian residents to be fully vaccinated before advising that border restrictions be loosened for tourists and business travelers who aren't citizens or permanent residents.

Beginning July 5, those travelers won't have to quarantine for two weeks or get tested eight days after arriving back in Canada. Travellers will still be required to have a "suitable quarantine plan, and be prepared to quarantine, in case it is determined at the border that they do not meet the necessary requirements".

Fully vaccinated travellers will be required to upload their proof of vaccination and pre-departure negative COVID test result to the government's ArriveCAN app to skip quarantine. They must also take a first PCR test no more than 72 hours before landing back in Canada.

Fully-vaccinated passengers arriving earlier - even on July 4 - must undergo current quarantine measures, and passengers are still subject to a COVID-19 test upon arrival.

"The research and science obviously indicates that children can get sick with Covid-19 and they can transmit Covid-19 and because vaccines are not authorized for use in children under 12 unfortunately most children will not be vaccinated", said Patty Hajdu, Canada's health minister during the press conference.

If you have not yet, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair recommended downloading the ArriveCAN App.

As part of the changes, travellers will also be required to disclose their vaccination status.

"Our economies are very much intertwined and we benefit from Canadians coming to patronize our sporting events, our ski resorts and festivals and vice versa", said U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs (D-NY) who represents a district along the border.

Fully vaccinated means having received the full series of a vaccine or a combination of vaccines accepted by the Government of Canada (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen) at least 14 days prior to entering Canada.

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Conservative Health Critic Michelle Rempel Garner also criticized the government for not being more forthcoming about what benchmarks need to be hit to further relax travel restrictions.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood firm, saying last week the border would stay largely shut until 75% of Canadians had received the first of a two-dose coronavirus vaccine and 20% had been given both shots.

"With no metrics or science presented with today's decision, this is a political decision likely created to discourage travel while giving a talking point for the Liberals to diffuse anger from (the) tourism industry and families separated across borders", Rempel Garner said in a tweet.

There will be no change in quarantine requirements for travellers who are unvaccinated, people who have one dose, and foreign nationals.

Homeland Security said in a statement it noted "positive developments in recent weeks and is participating with other USA agencies in the White House's expert working groups with Canada and Mexico to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably".

Warner also said the Ontario government is still concerned with "significant gaps and loopholes" that allow for someone to avoid the federal government's hotel quarantine system by driving across the border, instead of flying.

During a media briefing officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada speaking on background said the previous system that was based around paper documents was "inefficient", which prompted the federal government to make the app mandatory.

This story was updated at 1:43 p.m.

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