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Travel restrictions easing July 5 for fully vaxxed; “separate lines” coming to airports

Travel restrictions easing July 5 for fully vaxxed; “separate lines” coming to airports
From left: Health Minister Patty Hajdu; Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Starting July 5 at 11:59 p.m. EDT, fully vaccinated travellers who are permitted to enter Canada will no longer be subject to quarantine requirements, federal officials announced on Monday (June 21).

As part of the government’s first phase of easing border measures, eligible travellers will no longer have to quarantine in a government-authorized hotel or complete a COVID-19 test on day eight.

Vaccinated travellers will still need to meet a “series of requirements,” said Health Minister Patty Hajdu, including pre-departure and on-arrival testing.

“We are continuing these testing requirements to allow public health experts to continue to monitor positivity rates at the border and monitor for variants of concern,” Minister Hajdu said.

There are no changes to Canada’s current border measures for travellers that are not fully vaccinated.

In other words, unvaccinated travellers will still be required to book a three-night stay at a government-authorized hotel before their departure to Canada.

To be considered fully vaccinated, a traveller must have received the full series of a vaccine — or combination of vaccines — accepted by the Government of Canada at least 14 days prior to entering Canada. 

Currently, those vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).

Hajdu reminded all travellers entering Canada to “plan in advance” to ensure they meet all requirements as outlined by each province.

Work continues on a proof of vaccination system that will be certified by the Canadian government, officials said.

“If you’re planning on travelling internationally this summer, remember to check the requirements of the country that you’re visiting,” Hajdu said, noting that some countries have had to make last-minute adjustments as the health situation evolves.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said all travellers entering Canada must be asymptomatic upon arrival and must provide contact information, as well as proof of vaccination through the ArriveCAN app before arriving at the Canadian border.

Vaccination documentation can be either a paper or digital copy, the government clarified on its website. 

Travellers must still present a suitable quarantine plan, and be prepared to quarantine, in case it is determined at the border that they do not meet all of the conditions required to be exempt from quarantine.

“It is absolutely essential for all travellers to have their ArriveCAN receipt and documents ready, including proof of vaccination, before they arrive at the border,” Blair said.

Travel restrictions for foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, will remain in place until at least July 21. The new policy will not apply to tourists or foreign business travellers that aren’t essential workers.

Blair said the Government of Canada will continue to "strongly advise Canadians to avoid non-essential travel."

"Although the future is looking brighter than it has for a long time with COVID-19 cases on a downward trend and vaccination efforts going well across the country, we can’t let our guard down," Blair said in a statement. 

"Separate lines" coming to airports

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra called the changes “significant steps” towards a safe and science-based return to travel.

To compliment the changes, Transport Canada will be eliminating pre-departure temperature screening for international travellers coming to Canada, Alghabra said.

“This is so air carriers can focus on travellers and enter the necessary health and screening information prior to departure and avoid duplication of work,” he said. "This will make the travel process more streamlined, ensuring passengers spend less time at airports.”

To ensure the “smooth movement” of vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers at airports, the government will be working with industry to establish “separate lines” for these two categories of travellers.

Ottawa will be working with the industry to establish “separate lines” for vaccinated & unvaccinated travellers.

"This means, on arrival, we can quickly sort passengers based on vaccination status and get them to the appropriate screening checkpoints, efficiently and safely,” Alghabra said. “This means shorter lines, shorter wait times and getting out of the airport faster.”

Transport Canada is also renewing its flight ban between Canada and India until July 21. It will not be renewing the flight ban between Canada and Pakistan.

Key targets 

The government, in a release, said the changes in border measures are now possible "because of the successes of the vaccine roll out in Canada and Canadians following public health measures." 

"As vaccination, case counts and hospitalization rates evolve, the Government of Canada will continue to consider further targeted measures at the borders—and when to lift or adjust them—to keep Canadians safe and the economy running," the government said.

The update comes as Canada, over the weekend, passed a key threshold in COVID-19 vaccination numbers. 

The target for easing border measures is to get 75 per cent of Canadians vaccinated with the first dose and at least 20 per cent vaccinated with a second dose, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters last week. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses media on June 18, 2021.

The part people tend to “overlook” when it comes to fully vaccinated travel is that having both doses of a vaccine doesn’t protect the community from catching the virus, Trudeau said. 

“It’s not just about saying you’re fully vaccinated – ‘have fun, run around’ – it’s about saying you’re returning to a country where we haven’t yet reached high enough thresholds of second-dose vaccination," Trudeau said. "We’re getting there quickly, but that’s why we’re looking at a phased approach to easing border restrictions."

vaccination certification system will soon be added to the already-built ArriveCAN app soon.

Vaccinated travellers, using the app, will be able to upload an image of their paper or emailed proof of vaccination so border agents can verify that they are, indeed, fully vaccinated, officials said last week. 

By fall, Canada will have a national certification of vaccination system that “will be easily accepted around the world for people who need to travel internationally,” Trudeau said.

Ottawa, on Friday (June 18), announced that international travel restrictions and the ban on non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. border would be extended until July 21. 

This is a developing story. 

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