The Trudeau Liberals announced Monday that fully vaccinated Americans can resume non-essential travel into Canada beginning August 9, permitting they received two doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines two weeks before travel.
“This preliminary step allows for the Government of Canada to fully operationalize the adjusted border measures ahead of September 7, 2021, and recognizes the many close ties between Canadians and Americans,” states a government press release.
The border was mutually shut down to non-essential travel on March 21, 2020, with travel restrictions renewed monthly.
Americans under 12 and other unvaccinated dependent children must accompany a fully vaccinated parent, step-parent, or legal guardian and adhere to the regional public health guidelines. They will not have to quarantine upon arrival.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Thursday that the federal government "approached the issue with caution," citing the "threat" posed by COVID-19 variants, reports CTV News.
"Vaccinations are by far the best protection that people can have," said LeBlanc, with Canada overtaking the US in complete vaccination rates. 80 percent of Canadians eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine have at least received one dose, and over half are fully vaccinated.
The federal government also announced Monday that it will double the number of airports receiving international flights and will scrap the mandatory three-night hotel quarantine requirement for unvaccinated travelers. However, they must still find suitable arrangements to quarantine.
As of July 5, fully vaccinated travelers are no longer required by law to quarantine and can recuse themselves from a post-arrival test unless randomly selected. Before boarding their flight, all travelers must still upload proof of vaccination to the ArriveCAN app or website and have their vaccine certificate on-person to present to border officials.
As for other fully vaccinated foreign nationals, looser border restrictions will also apply to them as of September 7, if the domestic handling of COVID-19 maintains its current downward trajectory.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer previously warned of unilateral action should Canada fail to reach an agreement on loosening border restrictions, stating:
"If an agreement cannot be reached, the United States must do two things: expand the definition of essential travel to include vaccinated Canadian citizens with family, property, educational, medical, or US business interests, and unilaterally open the northern border to those vaccinated Canadians," said Schumer in a statement.
He added: "For over a year, we have been told to follow the science, facts, and data; it's time for the US to do the same and finally take the first move in good faith to safely reopen the border to vaccinated Canadians."
The US has yet to announce how it will lift restrictions for Canadians travelling south of the border.