The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable – a nationwide coalition of leaders in tourism and travel working to safely restart the sector – is “encouraged" that fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents are now eligible to cross the Canadian border without quarantine.
The coalition released a statement yesterday (Aug. 9) as the Canadian government, for the first time in 17 months, began allowing U.S. travellers to enter Canada for non-essential reasons and skip quarantine – just as long as they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, for at least 14 days, by a Health Canada-approved brand.
Eligable Americans – entering Canada by both land and air – must also show proof of a negative 72-hour molecular COVID-19 test and use the ArriveCAN app, or this online web portal, to upload their vaccination documents.
While the easing of border restrictions – the next stage in Canada’s phased approach to reopening – marked an “important milestone,” the Roundtable said it is only “the first step in the long process of rebuilding an industry devastated by COVID-19 restrictions.”
“There is still much work to be done to successfully reopen the sector,” the coalition said.
What needs to happen
With that, the Roundtable is calling on Ottawa to lead the following initiatives:
- A commitment to Canadians that government will stay on course towards a well-managed and safe reopening.
- The immediate development of a universally recognized digital vaccine certification program.
- Ongoing diplomatic efforts to guarantee the free passage for Canadians to countries with exclusionary programs such as the United Kingdom and the United States, and the international recognition of all vaccines approved by Health Canada, including AstraZeneca.
- Continue to work in partnership with the travel and tourism industry and the provincial governments to reassure Canadians that the extraordinary efforts being made by the sector means that travel within Canada remains safe.
- These initiatives are time sensitive and should not be delayed by a potential federal election.
“The travel industry is not like a light switch that can simply be turned on and off,” said Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the tourism sector. Notwithstanding today's news, significant barriers continue to keep tourists away and businesses shuttered.”
“We need all governments to stay on course towards a well-managed and safe reopening of our economy.”
Beth Potter, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, noted how the Canadian travel and tourism industry has “essentially lost two summer travel seasons in a row.”
“It's now mid-August and we are only seeing a partial re-opening of the border,” Potter stated. “By September when Canada is expected to open its borders to the rest of the world, the summer travel season will have ended.”
"In our industry, one summer's day has the same economic value has an entire week in the winter.”
Potter encouraged the government to “make travel easy” by introducing one vaccine passport for Canadians and to communicate to Canadians that is safe and feasible to travel.”
The Canada-U.S. land border – the world’s longest international border crossing, measuring 8,900 kilometres – closed to non-essential travel in March of 2020 as governments moved to halt the spread of COVID-19.
The reopening of the border is not reciprocal – the U.S. side of the land border is still closed to non-essential traffic until at least Aug. 21 (although Canadians, throughout the pandemic, have been allowed to enter the U.S. by air).
Given Canada’s low COVID-19 case counts, reopening the border to Americans who have had their full series of shots “is the right step to do,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters at a news conference on July 27.