Travel in and out of Canada has been an ever-evolving situation, with the rules changing frequently, especially in 2021. Beginning in February, air travellers into Canada were forced to abide by the hotel quarantine rule, which cost travellers money, regardless of compliance. The hotel stay could cost up to $2,000 per individual and breaking the hotel quarantine rule carries a fine of up to $3,000. At the time, many returning snowbirds were looking for loopholes to avoid the requirement, including flying into border states and crossing into Canada by land. Recently, the Canadian government announced an increase to the maximum fine from $3,000 to $5,000, adding an even bigger penalty for breaking the much-maligned rule, despite a Federal Advisory Panel which recommended ending the hotel quarantine, as we addressed last week.
Just this week, the federal government announced plans to revise the rules once again, this time lifting the quarantine requirement altogether in certain cases.
In what appears to follow the panel recommendations discussed last week, the government has indicated that fully vaccinated Canadians will no longer be required to stay at a hotel or plan to quaratine at home for 14 days starting in early July. The relaxation of regulations does not mean that all the regulations are gone however, as Health Minister Patty Hajdu indicated that fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents will still be subject to certain protocols:
At this point, it is unclear how these regulation changes will apply to families travelling with unvaccinated children, as not all children are eligible to be vaccinated at this time. Notably, the relaxation of the regulations applies only to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and not tourists coming to Canada.
Not all vaccines will be approved when determining if a person qualifies as being fully vaccinated. The approved vaccines under the new regulation change are the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The federal government is also working with the provinces in order to develop a standardized vaccine passport system. Although the vaccine passport system may not be ready in time for the change in regulations, CBSA agents will be given temporary guidance on how to handle Canadians returning without a vaccine passport who have other proof of being vaccinated.
The government also indicated that the timing of when the regulation changes will be implemented depends on the case counts within Canada and the world, as well as vaccination rates. Regarding when the changes may take place, Health Minister Hajdu said:
“These metrics are very important factors as we move towards implementing the changes on the border that we hope to have in place in early July. If we can keep our communities safe and free of COVID, then we will not have to return to measures that are so difficult for everyone.”
We will continue to provide updates as they’re announced, so be sure to check this space for the latest developments if you are planning on travelling.
As of June 10, 2021, only around 10% of Canada’s population is fully vaccinated. Because these new regulations only apply to those who are fully vaccinated, there may be an even bigger vaccination push in the coming weeks. Thankfully Canada is set to receive at least 55 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of July, so those who want to be vaccinated will likely be able to receive both doses by that point. Provinces have also begun plans to shorten the time between the first and second dose, which should result in more people being fully vaccinated sooner than originally planned.
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.
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