This story will be updated.
HOULTON, Maine — While non-essential travel from the United States into Canada is still prohibited, those currently authorized to travel across the border, such as family members and dual citizens, may do so without quarantining if they are fully vaccinated, beginning on July 5, Canadian government officials said Monday.
The change comes after Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Friday that the ban on non-essential travel would be extended for at least another month, despite the vaccination threshold cited by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a requirement for easing border restrictions having been met. Seventy-five percent of the Canadian adult population has received at least one vaccine shot and 20 percent is fully vaccinated.
While the new requirements mean that most American tourists are still barred from entering Canada, it gives some relief to separated family members and loved ones, who have had to face numerous travel hurdles and a required 14-day quarantine in order to see each other during the past 15 months.
“Although the future is looking brighter than it has for a long time with COVID-19 cases on a
downward trend and vaccination efforts going well across the country, we can’t let our guard down,” Blair said Monday. “Our phased approach to easing border measures is guided by facts, scientific evidence and the advice of our public health experts. In all that we’re doing in response to this pandemic, our top priority continues to be the health, safety and security of all Canadians.”
The United States has also extended its travel ban with Canada as well as Mexico in the southern border until at least July 21. Calls from U.S. politicians to reopen the border have become more pronounced and increasingly bipartisan, with U.S. senators Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, both calling for reopening.
Those traveling to Canada after July 5 will need to download the ArriveCAN app and enter information such as proof of vaccination, contact information, a plan for potential quarantine and a self-assessment of COVID-19 symptoms. Once reaching the border, travelers will have to answer required health and screening questions, and take a COVID-19 arrival test.
If travelers are fully vaccinated, meaning that more than 14 days have passed since their final shots, they will be exempt from any quarantine arrangements.
“This is the first phase of our precautionary approach to easing Canada’s border measures. At this time, we are not opening up our borders any further,” Dominic LeBlanc, the Canadian Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs, said. “The Government of Canada continues to work globally through the World Health Organization as well as closely with the provinces, territories, Indigenous partners and American authorities on moving forward toward reopening in a way that is safe for both countries.”
Some limitations to travelers remain even with other restrictions being lifted. Children under age 11, who have yet to be approved for the currently authorized vaccines, will have to quarantine, for instance.
Canadian Federal Health Minister Patty Hadju said the decision to continue with the non-essential travel ban was due to the prevalence of the new Delta variant of COVID-19, which is more infectious than the original strain.
“We still want to be certain that when we start to see increased numbers of travelers traveling around the world to a variety of different locations, and higher volumes of people coming from all kinds of parts of the world, that we need to have the domestic protection that we need for any importation of COVID-19,” Hadju said.