No full reopening to United States until 75% Canadians vaccinated: Chief

Tanya Simon
June 22, 2021

It will apply to people eligible to travel to Canada, including citizens, permanent residents, and people registered under the Indian Act.

This includes quarantine-exempt individuals, such as cross-border workers.

Among the information the federal government is making mandatory to submit through the app: travel and contact details; quarantine plans, and a COVID-19 symptom self-assessment.

However, with a negative result, the quarantine and day-8 testing requirement are waived for those fully vaccinated.

Those travellers must have two doses of a vaccine approved by Health Canada, provide a negative COVID-19 test from 72 hours before arrival, take a second test upon arrival, and have a quarantine plan in the event the arrival test comes back positive.

Allowing fully vaccinated Canadians to bypass quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test result is a step in the right direction, and hopefully fully vaccinated Americans will be next.

"The cautious adjustments announced today are only possible because of the tremendous efforts of Canadians, and additional ones will only happen if we continue to protect each other", said Health Minister Patty Hajdu when announcing the loosened restrictions on Monday.

Vaccines that are now approved by Health Canada for emergency use are those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen. This information must be entered into the ArriveCAN app before arriving in Canada.

Vaccinated permanent residents and foreign nationals are also included in the order. This must be done before the traveller arrives at the Canadian border.

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The province has already surpassed the first vaccination threshold and is on pace to reach 80 per cent by early July. Nearly two in three Canadians now have one dose of vaccine, but slightly more than one in 10 have both doses.

The travel announcement people all over Canada have been waiting for has finally come through, confirming that fully-vaccinated citizens will no longer be forced to quarantine at government-approved hotel sites upon returning, by air or land, from anywhere outside the country.

No changes have been made to border measures for travellers who are not fully vaccinated.

"Our number one priority as we fight [COVID-19] is keeping Canadians safe", Canada's minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, Bill Blair, said in a tweet on June 18.

"(Preparing to travel under current restrictions) all adds some extra stress and there's also just a little more uncertainty", he said.

Stephen Warner, a spokesperson for Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, who has blamed the federal government's travel restrictions for the severity of Ontario's third wave of COVID, said Jones' office is "glad" the government announced specificities around how fully vaccinated travellers will be able to avoid quarantining.

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.

Homeland Security said in a statement it noted "positive developments in recent weeks and is participating with other US 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".

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.

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

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