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Canada eases border requirements for vaccinated travelers

U.S. Canada border crossing at Champlain-LaColle
WAMC/Pat Bradley
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U.S. Canada border crossing at Champlain-LaColle (file)

Canadian officials announced Thursday that fully vaccinated travelers will soon no longer need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result to enter the country by air, land or water.

In January, the rate of COVID-19 positivity of travelers entering Canada was approximately 10 percent. Canadian Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos reported that rate has now fallen to about one percent. He added that within the country, high vaccination rates and strong adherence to public health guidance has pushed Canada past the peak of the Omicron variant. He said the availability of tools such as rapid testing and new treatments means Canada is in a transition phase of the pandemic that allows for changes at the border.

Effective April 1st, 2022 fully vaccinated travelers will no longer be required to complete a pre-entry test for travel to Canada. Fully vaccinated travelers may still continue to undergo random testing upon entry to Canada but they are no longer required to quarantine while awaiting their results. Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travelers will continue to be tested on arrival. All travelers are also required to complete ArriveCAN before entry to Canada. All measures are subject to review.”

Canada’s COVID-19 policies led to protests in many cities earlier this year and blocked key border crossings.

Officials in New York’s North Country are praising the Canadian government’s policy change. The North Country Chamber had been counting down to the second anniversary of the border closure on March 21st – referring to it as “Separation Day”. President and CEO Garry Douglas calls Canada’s move a giant step toward normalcy.

“Now we’re looking forward to April 1st Reunion Day. It’s outstanding news. It puts us back as close to normalcy as we could hope to be at this point because the U.S. has already been doing what Canada is now saying it’s going to do. We’ve been allowing Canadians to come in as long as they’re fully vaccinated, no test requirements, no complications. And now it’ll be the same in the other direction so this is a major step. It means essentially the vast majorities of Canadians and Americans who may want to once again cross at the land border can do so almost as easily as they ever did.”

Many regional officials are equally pleased to see the easing of restrictions at the Canadian border.

State Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, a Democrat representing New York’s 115th District, released a statement saying he’s looking forward to seeing Canadian tourists return to the region: “The marinas and campgrounds that have been nearly empty the past two years will now be full again and all the local businesses will be able to welcome our northern neighbors back to the North Country with open arms. We are finally moving toward the right direction to return to normalcy at our border...”

Vermont Republican Governor Phil Scott enthusiastically greeted the Canadian policy change stating: “In addition to reuniting our border communities, this change will also bring Canadian businesses and travelers back to Vermont to enjoy our downtowns, outdoor recreation opportunities, and expand our economic ties... We know that our border communities are culturally and economically inseparable, and we’re thrilled these communities will be able to more easily go about their daily lives as they did prior to the pandemic.”

Douglas reminded travelers that they must continue to use the ArriveCAN app that Canada implemented during the pandemic.

“And you have to have your vaccination information uploaded to that so it’s there for Canadian border officials to see at the booth. You have to use your app to go in and tell them this is where I’m going and how long I’m going to be in Canada, these are how many people will be in the car and who they are. It’s something I think we can all learn to live with. And Canada has made it clear that that is not so much a matter of the pandemic. They intend to stay with that.”

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