It was recently announced that the Canada-United States border will remain closed to all non-essential travel until at least July 21, 2021. The closure has been renewed on a monthly basis ever since the initial closure in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadian and United States officials are still meeting every few weeks in order to discuss the border situation. As vaccination rates in both countries continue to increase, a border reopening looks to be happening sooner rather than later.
A few weeks ago the Canadian government gave some preliminary information on how the border restrictions will be addressed going forward. Specifically, it was mentioned that fully vaccinated Canadians would no longer be subject to the 14-day quarantine requirement upon re-entry into Canada following a trip abroad. However, at that time there was no timeline given for when any of the restrictions would be lifted.
Now, following a period of speculation we have some clarity. Starting on July 5, 2021, fully vaccinated Canadians can enter Canada via land or air without having to quarantine. Vaccinated Canadians will not be subject to the quarantine requirements so long as they test negative for COVID-19. In order to qualify as fully vaccinated under this change in regulations, Canadians must be vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Further, the final dose has to have been administered at least 14 days prior to seeking entry into Canada in order for the exception to apply.
Proof of vaccine of course will be required for those who are seeking to avoid the quarantine regulation. Travellers will be asked to have either a paper or digital copy of their vaccination documentation. Travellers will also have to submit proof of their vaccination as well as some other information into the ArriveCAN app prior to entry into Canada. The ArriveCAN app can be downloaded via the App Store or from the Google Play Store, meaning it can be downloaded on Apple and Android phones. It is advisable to download the app and input the required information well before you are going to cross the border in order to avoid any unnecessary difficulties at the border.
Notably, this new exception for people who are fully vaccinated applies only to Canadian citizens, permanent residents and people who are otherwise eligible to travel into Canada. This means that the current border restrictions regarding essential travel will remain in place for the time being, so fully vaccinated non-essential travellers to Canada who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents will still be denied entry.
The app can be used to either scan a photo of a person’s proof of full immunization, or the information can be entered manually. Travellers can enter their information up to 72 hours prior to travel, and once completed, the app will produce a QR code which will be scanned at the airport or border. Every person entering Canada following non-essential travel will still be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival. Following the test, fully vaccinated people will not be required to quarantine. Those who are partially vaccinated will be required to quarantine until they receive a negative result from their test, and those who are not vaccinated will need to quarantine. Unvaccinated travellers will also be required to undergo a second test immediately after the quarantine period.
Children who are not eligible to be vaccinated will be exempt from the mandatory hotel quarantine but are subject to the 14-day quarantine requirement. Fully vaccinated parents of unvaccinated children do not need to isolate with their children. This regulation will therefore make it difficult for families with children to travel as children under 12 are not cleared to be vaccinated at this time.
As to when more border restrictions will be lifted, the government has not provided a concrete timeline as of yet. Prime Minister Trudeau indicated that the border will largely remain shut until 75% of Canadians had received one dose of the two-dose vaccines, and 20% of Canadians have received both shots. At the time this article was written, 64% of Canada’s total population received one dose of the vaccine and almost 13% of Canada’s population was fully vaccinated.
It is looking increasingly likely that the border may open to non-essential traffic later this summer. If you want to make travel plans, make sure to keep monitoring the situation, as it is rapidly changing.
Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the immigration process, with an eye toward the ever-changing regulations in light of COVID-19. We will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19 on both sides of the border and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about your potential classification as essential or about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.