It’s official: the Government of Canada has ended COVID-19 border restrictions, including mandatory vaccinations and random on-arrival testing, and has made the ArriveCAN app optional.
Confirming reports that had been circulating last week, federal officials shared the news on Monday (Sept. 26).
The changes mean foreign nationals will no longer require an approved series of COVID-19 vaccinations to enter the country.
It also means travellers entering Canada will no longer be subject to random mandatory COVID-19 tests. This measure was temporarily suspended on June 11 before being reinstated again on July 19.
The requirement for unvaccinated Canadians to isolate when they return to the country also no longer applies.
The policy changes will come into effect on October 1, 2022.
Also starting that day, travellers will no longer be required to undergo health checks for travel on air and rail or wear masks on planes and trains.
Although masks are now optional, travellers are still being advised to wear one.
In addition, air carriers will no longer need to validate if travellers have entered information in ArriveCAN before boarding.
This will come as good news to many as the ArriveCAN app has faced heightened criticism from border communities, tourism groups, travel agent advocates and Conservative MPs who argue the platform has hindered the recovery of Canada’s travel industry.
Since early September, the Canadian government has been promoting ArriveCAN’s effectiveness. Officials even unveiled upgrades to the platform, such as the optional “Advance CBSA Declaration” feature.
But pressure both within the Liberals’ own caucus and bureaucracy was reportedly challenging the government to evolve with COVID-19’s threat level, forcing officials to reconsider the effectiveness of outdated practices.
While travellers will no longer have to submit their quarantine and vaccination information through ArriveCAN, they can continue to use the optional Advance Declaration feature to save time at the airport by submitting their customs and immigration declaration in advance of arrival.
This feature is currently available at Toronto Pearson, Vancouver, or Montreal-Trudeau international airports and will expand to the Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Billy Bishop Toronto City, Ottawa, Québec City, and Halifax international airports in the coming months.
Cruise measures lifted
Cruise measures will also be lifted – travellers will no longer be required to have pre-board tests, be vaccinated, or use ArriveCAN.
A set of guidelines will remain to protect passengers and crew, which will align with the approach used in the United States, the government says.
As for travel-related testing, Ottawa says it will maintain operational capacity to reinstate some testing at the borders in the event it is needed in the future.
The pandemic – though still active – is improving globally. The World Health Organization, last week, announced that deaths from COVID-19 are at the lowest they have been since March 2020.
Canada’s lifting of travel restrictions come on the heels of a new report by many doctors that claims border measures failed to protect Canadians.
The study, prepared for the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable, a coalition of industry leaders that has been advocating for the end of travel restrictions, says Canada’s current border restrictions are ineffective at stopping COVID-19 variants of concern from entering and spreading across Canada and are unlikely to be effective in the future.
These latest changes do not remove the quarantine or testing requirements for people who entered Canada before Saturday.
This is a developing story.