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  • Nan Berezowski

Canada’s New Border Normal?

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced yesterday, a much anticipated easing of border measures for fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada. There are two important dates: August 9, 2021 and September 7, 2021. Eligible American citizens & permanent residents will be permitted to enter Canada effective August 9, 2021; all other country nationals will be eligible as of September 7, 2021. Both dates re-open ‘non-essential’, travel to Canada, but both dates are contingent on Canada’s continued favourable Covid-19 epidemiology.

On August 9, 2021, Canada will allow discretionary (non-essential) travel for fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents, currently residing in the U.S. This will extend to eligible nationals of all countries on September 7, 2021. ‘Fully vaccinated’ means that a traveller has 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 Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).

All is not normal though as Covid-19 criteria will still apply and travellers who do not meet requirements, will be precluded from boarding their flight, denied entry to Canada, and can face fines on arrival. Air carriers will verify that travellers coming to Canada have submitted their information digitally via the ArriveCAN app or website before they board their flight. Discretionary travellers who are unable to show their ArriveCAN receipt – either on their mobile device or a printed copy - will not be allowed to board. Travellers must also meet the pre-entry testing requirements; be asymptomatic and have a paper or digital copy of their vaccination documentation in English or French (or a translation and an original).

On the positive side:

  1. Travellers who have recovered from Covid-19, but continue to test positive, will be able to present positive Covid-19 molecular test results on a specimen taken 14 to 180 days prior to arrival in Canada as pert of the pre-arrival test requirements;

  2. In conjunction with new, yet to be disclosed, border testing surveillance, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected to complete one;

  3. Transport Canada will remove the current pre-boarding temperature screening of passengers for all domestic and international departures;

  4. The 3-night government-authorized hotel stay for travellers arriving by air will be eliminated;

  5. Eligible unvaccinated children under 12 years of age and dependent children (due to a mental or physical condition) of fully vaccinated travellers will no longer have to complete a 14-day quarantine (but must still follow strict public health measures); and

  6. Travellers who cannot be fully vaccinated due to a health condition may qualify for eased quarantine and testing requirements (but must still follow a modified quarantine).

Wearing masks at airports and on board all flights to, from and within Canada will continue to be mandatory for all travellers. Additionally, all travellers will still be required to provide a quarantine plan and be prepared to quarantine, should they not meet requirements.

There will be no changes to the mandatory testing requirements for unvaccinated travellers. They must undergo Day-1 and Day-8 Covid-19 molecular tests, and complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine, subject to limited exceptions.

This update has been compiled with the latest available information for the general information of Border Law clients and other interested parties. This Update is not comprehensive and should not be relied upon without appropriate legal advice.

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