Canada planning to reopen U.S. border

Mohanad Moetaz
Published: May 18, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government have begun working towards reopening the Canada-U.S. border, according to Bloomberg.

However, discussions are just getting started, and a reopening of the border may not be imminent just yet.

One approach would be to adopt a new system that allows vaccinated people to travel between the two countries without the need for COVID-19 testing or for the mandatory 14-day quarantine. This is being considered, according to an unnamed source speaking to Bloomberg.

This would be in line with Health Minister Patty Hajdu saying that Canada will be considering the use of “vaccine passports” that would allow vaccinated people to travel. There are some obstacles that need to be considered first, such as the measures that are appropriate for those who are vaccinated by vaccines that are not approved by Health Canada.

Trudeau has mentioned that Canada is working with the European Union to align their approaches. The E.U. is already working towards ending its internal travel restrictions.

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The Canada-U.S. border was closed in March 2020, and limited to essential travel, in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. As expected, the border closure affected Canada economically. The tourism and airline sectors were particularly hard-hit.

The reopening of the border is expected to be gradual, and will depend on the number of COVID-19 cases in both countries.

Canada is hit hard by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, more so than the U.S. This is because a vaccine rollout in Canada has slowed due to supply issues. Trudeau has said that Canadians are likely to be fully vaccinated by September. Canada’s vaccine campaign, however, has gained steam in recent weeks and the country is now recording among the highest vaccination rates per capita among OECD nations.

What do travellers need to do?

Restrictions for travellers of all countries including the U.S. are still expected to be extended later this week, at least until the reopening is finalised.

International flights will continue to be accepted through just four of Canada’s airports: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.

Travellers to Canada who are exempt from the travel restrictions will be required to show a COVID-19 test that is taken within 72 hours before coming to Canada. They will also need to take another test upon arrival, and quarantine in a government-approved hotel for three days while they wait for their results.

In addition, travellers will have to abide by the 14-day quarantine requirement. The three-day hotel stay can count towards your quarantine period. On the eighth day, travellers are required to take a third and final COVID-19 test.

Essential travellers will not need to quarantine. This includes emergency service providers, truck drivers, some technicians or specialists, those living in a trans-border community and those who regularly cross the border for work.

Who can currently travel to Canada?

Until the reopening of the border is materialised, only certain people are allowed to come to Canada. Those include Canadian citizens and permanent residents, as well as their family members.

Some temporary foreign workers, as well as international students who are attending a learning institution that has a COVID-19 readiness plan, are also exempt from the travel restrictions.

Protected persons and people coming to Canada for compassionate reasons are also exempt. For a full list of who can travel to Canada, visit this government webpage.

In all cases, Canadian border services officers have the final say on who is allowed into the country.

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