Canada Takes First Step to Reopening
Yesterday, June 21, 2021, the Government of Canada introduced its first move to ease border measures. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced that beginning July 5, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EDT, fully vaccinated travellers who are permitted to enter Canada will not be subject to the federal requirement to quarantine or required to take a Covid-19 test on Day 8. In addition, fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air will no longer be required to stay at a government-authorized hotel.
This is certainly a step forward but who does it apply to? There are two (2) parallel sets of rules that restrict Covid-19 era travel to and from Canada. There are travel restrictions and there are quarantine requirements. The two are easy to confuse. While yesterday’s quarantine relaxation is encouraging, it is important to understand that the border closure for ‘non-essential’ travel remains in force; this applies to fully vaccinated travellers, at least until July 21st, 2021.
So, the PHAC announcement, and my comments below assume your travel is, as defined by the government, for ‘essential’ purposes. What additionally is required? To start, 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, acceptable vaccines are:
✔ AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and
✔ Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).
In addition, while fully vaccinated travellers can receive their vaccine in any country, they must:
provide documentation supporting their vaccination in English, French or with a certified translation;
meet all other mandatory requirements for entry, including pre- and on arrival testing;
have a paper or digital copy of their vaccination documentation and provide Covid-19-related information electronically through ArriveCAN prior to arrival in Canada;
present a suitable quarantine plan;
be prepared to quarantine, in the event that PHAC determines, that they do not meet all of the conditions for quarantine exemption; and
I note that some non-vaccinated children under 18 and dependent adults travelling with those eligible for quarantine exemption, will also be exempt from the hotel stay, but must still quarantine for 14 days at their residence.
For travellers who are not fully vaccinated, current quarantine requirements remain in place. For instance, they must continue to adhere to the current testing and federal quarantine requirements and provide Covid-19-related information electronically through ArriveCAN prior to arriving in Canada. Interestingly, the announcement indicates that “Unvaccinated air travellers must also book a three-night stay at a government-authorized hotel before their departure to Canada”. While it is not clear that ‘unvaccinated’ includes those, who like many Canadians, have received only one (1) vaccination dose, I expect that it does.
They say ‘the devil is in the details’ and this is certainly the case here. This announcement has many details and I therefore urge travellers to discuss their specific travel circumstances with me before traveling to or from Canada.
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.