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Canada to reopen border to fully vaccinated U.S. travellers from Aug. 9

·4-min read

Canada is reopening its borders.

Ottawa announced on Monday that it will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from the United States as of Aug. 9, while fully vaccinated travellers from other countries will be able to enter the country as of Sept. 7.

In order to be considered fully vaccinated, travellers must have received a full series of a vaccine, or a combination of vaccines, accepted in Canada. The vaccines currently accepted by Ottawa include Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen's Johnson & Johnson. Passengers will have to submit travel information and proof of vaccine via the ArriveCAN app.

While Canada is easing border restrictions with the U.S., something business groups have been calling for for months, the government noted that the U.S. has yet to introduce a similar reopening plan.

“It’s important to note that the U.S. has not announced a reciprocal reopening of its border at this time,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said at a press conference on Monday.

“We will continue to have regular conversations with our U.S. partners to ensure the safety, security and economic wellbeing of our respective countries.”

When asked if the U.S. plans on reciprocating Canada’s border reopening, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that the government is continuing to review travel restrictions.

“We take this incredibly seriously but we look and are guided by our own medical experts. I wouldn’t look at it through a reciprocal intention,” Psaki said.

Starting Aug. 9, fully vaccinated travellers will not require a mandatory on-arrival COVID-19 test. Instead, travellers will be randomly tested. Those who are not fully vaccinated will still be subject to quarantine rules and on-arrival testing. All travellers will still have to provide a negative COVID-19 molecular test before arriving in Canada, regardless of vaccination status. Canada's hotel quarantine system will also be eliminated for all air travellers as of Aug. 9.

Currently, just four airports in Canada allow international arrivals. As of Aug. 9, five additional airports will be permitted to accept international flights, including Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton.

Canada also extended the ongoing restriction on direct commercial and private passenger flights from India until Aug. 21, citing concern about the Delta variant.

Business groups welcome new rules 

Business industry groups welcomed the easing of border restrictions, but some said there are still outstanding issues that need to be addressed. 

The National Airline Council of Canada (NACC), which represents Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat and Jazz Aviation, said it looks forward to the border reopening, but noted that the government should take further steps and lower quarantine duration for non-vaccinated travellers. 

"Though we have almost lost the summer travel season, today’s announcement provides clarity and timeframes that will allow consumers to plan, and the travel and tourism sector to begin welcoming fully vaccinated foreign travellers once again”, NACC president Mike McNaney said in a statement. 

"But further policy changes will ultimately be needed to support the successful re-start of the industry and the tens of thousands of aviation jobs that have been impacted by the pandemic." 

Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Perrin Beatty said “questions remain about how this partial reopening will work.”

“We are encouraged that the government is modifying quarantine rules for vaccinated travellers and enabling more airports to receive international travellers,” Beatty said in a statement.

“However, we are concerned that the costly and cumbersome procedures that remain for fully vaccinated travellers will discourage short visits, including many business trips.”

Goldy Hyder, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, said in a statement that the easing of border restrictions is good for the economy and "will provide much-needed hope for Canada’s hard-hit travel, tourism and hospitality sectors."

"We will be watching closely to see how these rules are implemented," Hyder said. 

"There should be no unnecessary hurdles or wait-times at the border for travellers who satisfy all requirements, including being fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine."

The government says its reopening strategy will allow it to continue monitoring vaccine effectiveness and variants of concern.

“Using these layers of protection, the Government of Canada can monitor the COVID-19 situation in Canada, respond quickly to threats, and guide decisions on restricting international travel,” the government said in a news release.

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

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