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Canada Prepares to Reopen Borders

On September 7, 2021, provided that the domestic epidemiologic situation remains favorable, Canada intends to open its borders to any fully vaccinated travelers who have completed the full course of vaccination with a Government of Canada-accepted vaccine at least 14 days prior to entering Canada and who meet specific entry requirements.

As a first step, starting August 9, 2021, Canada plans to begin allowing entry to American citizens and permanent residents, who are currently residing in the United States, and have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entering Canada for non-essential travel. This preliminary step allows for the Government of Canada to fully operationalize the adjusted border measures ahead of September 7, 2021, and recognizes the many close ties between Canadians and Americans.

Subject to limited exceptions, all travelers must use ArriveCAN (app or web portal) to submit their travel information. If they are eligible to enter Canada and meet specific criteria, fully vaccinated travelers will not have to quarantine upon arrival in Canada.

To further support these new measures, Transport Canada is expanding the scope of the existing Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that currently directs scheduled international commercial passenger flights into four Canadian Airports: Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport.

Effective August 9, 2021, international flights carrying passengers will be permitted to land at the following five additional Canadian 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.

These airports, in cooperation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and Transport Canada, are working to implement the measures necessary to safely welcome international passengers as soon as possible after August 9, as conditions dictate.

All travelers, regardless of vaccination status, will still require a pre-entry COVID-19 molecular test result. However effective August 9, 2021, the Government of Canada is adjusting its post-arrival testing strategy for fully vaccinated travelers. Using a new border testing surveillance program at airports and land border crossings, fully vaccinated travellers will not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected to complete a Day 1 COVID-19 molecular test. There are no changes to the mandatory testing requirements for unvaccinated travellers.

This strategy allows the Government of Canada to continue monitoring variants of concern in Canada and vaccine effectiveness. Using these layers of protection, the government can monitor the COVID-19 situation in Canada, respond quickly to threats, and guide decisions on restricting international travel.

Finally, with the advent of increased vaccination rates in Canada, declining COVID-19 cases and reduced pressure on health care capacity, the three-night government authorized hotel stay requirement will be eliminated for all travelers arriving by air as of 12:01 A.M. EDT on August 9. Fully vaccinated travelers who meet the requirements will be exempt from quarantine; however, all travelers must still provide a quarantine plan and be prepared to quarantine, in case it is determined at the border that they do not meet the necessary requirements.

While Canada continues to trend in the right direction, the epidemiological situation and vaccination coverage is not the same around the world. The Canadian government therefore continues to advise Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada – international travel increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and its variants, as well as of spreading it to others. Border measures also remain subject to change as the epidemiological situation evolves. As Canada looks to welcome fully vaccinated travellers from the U.S., the federal government will continue to monitor the situation and provide updated travel advice to Canadians.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has welcomed the Canadian government’s decision to further ease border restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers. “Today’s decision by the Government of Canada to gradually allow fully vaccinated travelers to enter the country is good news on various fronts. First and foremost, it restores the freedom of travel, which will be especially welcomed by those who were barred from seeing friends and family. Moreover, airlines can now start reinstating international connectivity. This will be a boost for rebuilding the Canadian economy, especially through the contribution of international business and tourism. Nevertheless, we ask the authorities to consider the latest recommendations from the World Health Organization regarding alleviations for those who are unable to get vaccinated,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

According to latest calculations by IATA Economics, reopening Canada’s borders to international travelers will:

  • Allow airlines to begin restoring the estimated 682 routes (domestic and international) which we lost as a result of the pandemic,
  • Begin generating the CAD 19 billion in annual spending by visitors,
  • Support and sustain 432,000 local jobs, and
  • Provide an annual contribution of CAD 14 billion to Canada’s GDP.

Read the announcement at the Government of Canada

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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