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Bill Blair, federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Ottawa to open borders for fully vaccinated Americans on Aug. 9, other countries Sept. 7

Monday, July 19, 2021 @ 4:38 PM | By Terry Davidson


Canada’s government will begin reopening its borders to fully vaccinated tourists, expand its list of airports able to accept international passenger flights and do away with its controversial hotel quarantine requirement for air travellers.    

On July 19, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and others made the much anticipated announcement, saying that with COVID-19 vaccination rates in Canada continuing to progress, there is less risk when it comes to accepting visitors who have received their full round of shots.

 Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair

Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair

The reopening will come in two parts — one for the U.S. and one for all other travellers.   

Starting Aug. 9, Canada will open its inbound borders to non-essential travel by fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents residing in the U.S. On Sept. 7, Canada will open its doors to the fully vaccinated from all other countries.

In both cases, they will still have take a COVID-19 test before departing for Canada. But, starting on that Aug. 9 date, Ottawa will adjust its post-arrival testing so that fully vaccinated travellers are tested by random selection.

It was stressed that fully vaccinated travellers must have received one — or a combination of — the four vaccines currently approved by Health Canada, and that they must have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before their arrival.

They must also have a paper or digital copy of their vaccination details in English or French, or a certified translation accompanying the original.   

These travellers, if they also meet other criteria, will not have to submit to a 14-day quarantine.

However, just as before, they must submit their travel details via the ArriveCAN app or a government web portal before arriving and have a suitable quarantine plan in place as a precaution.   

During the press conference, Hajdu said children under 12 travelling with fully vaccinated parents will be exempt from quarantine, but that “they will still have to follow strict public health measures.”

“This means they can accompany their parent or guardian … to their destination, so long as they avoid group settings like summer camps, schools or childcare for 14 days.”

Hajdu was asked what she would say to those who feel that opening the border like this is too risky right now, given surges of the COVID-19 delta variant in the U.S. and United Kingdom.  

“Your question reflects the thinking that we’ve had, guided, again, by the public health authorities, and that is why we continue to maintain that all travellers are required to do a pre-departure test, regardless of their vaccination status,” said Hajdu. “This also helps to eliminate any asymptomatic infections in vaccinated individuals who might not think that they’ve contracted COVID-19.”

Canada will also be expanding its list of airports able to accept international passenger flights. Currently, such landings are allowed at only four international airports — Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.

But as of Aug. 9, it will be expanded to include Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa and Edmonton.

 Also on that date, Ottawa will eliminate its requirement that all incoming air passengers quarantine for up to three nights at a government designated hotel while awaiting test results — a form of mandatory isolation that became a hot-button issue due to travellers having to foot the bill for their stay.

As of July 19, 50 per cent of Canadians were fully vaccinated, while 75 per cent had received their first dose.

On the flipside, Canada’s current ban on direct commercial and private passenger flights from India has been extended to Aug. 21 in response to that country’s ongoing struggles with the virus. Travellers from India who arrive via an indirect route will still have to get a COVID-19 test from a third country before coming to Canada.

On July 15, the Prime Minister’s Office noted through a statement that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had brought up the issue of border restrictions during a recent routine call with provincial and territorial premiers.

The PMO said that Trudeau noted the upward trend in Canada’s vaccination numbers and that the country could soon be able to open its borders to non-essential travel from the U.S. and, later, to tourists from other countries.

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for The Lawyer’s Daily, please contact Terry Davidson at t.davidson@lexisnexis.ca or call 905-415-5899.