It has been a long time, neighbor.
The Canadian government has prohibited Americans from taking nonessential trips there since March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But that will change on Monday, August 9, when Canada opens its borders once again to leisure travel from its southern neighbors.
In a news release issued July 19, the Public Health Agency of Canada said the loosening of these restrictions is taking place because of “rising vaccination rates and declining Covid-19 cases.”
As of August 7, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention placed Canada at “Level 3: High” for Covid-19. Level 4 is the highest warning.
Here is a Q&A guide to help Americans smoothly cross the border for a vacation if you choose to go:
Question: Who will be eligible for nonessential travel to Canada starting Monday?
Answer: Entry will be permitted to American citizens and permanent residents who currently reside in the United States, are traveling from the United States and have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before entering Canada for nonessential travel.
To be considered fully vaccinated, travelers must have received the full series of a Covid-19 vaccine – or combination of vaccines – accepted by the government of Canada at least 14 days before entering Canada.
Currently, those vaccines are manufactured by:
– Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
Travelers must provide proof of vaccination in English or French (or a certified translation, along with the original) for both doses, if applicable. Travelers can receive their vaccines in any country.
Question: Where can they enter Canada?
Answer: Flights from the US will be able to land starting August 9 at Canadian airports that include:
– Calgary International Airport
– Edmonton International Airport
– Halifax Stanfield International Airport
– Montreal-Trudeau International Airport
– Ottawa/Macdonald-Cartier International Airport
– Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport
– Toronto Pearson International Airport
– Vancouver International Airport
– Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport
Fully vaccinated Americans may also enter Canada at a number of land border crossings.
Question: What will entry requirements be?
Answer: Fully vaccinated travelers must submit Covid-19 information electronically into ArriveCAN, the official Canadian government app you use to provide mandatory travel information when entering Canada. It must be entered within 72 hours before arrival. Travelers without a smartphone can submit the information at Canada.ca/ArriveCAN and print the receipt.
Travelers must also meet pre-entry testing requirements.
All travelers 5 or older must show proof of a negative result from a Covid-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours before their arrival in Canada or show proof of a positive Covid-19 molecular test taken between 14 and 180 days, as of August 9, before their arrival.
In addition, travelers must also:
– Be asymptomatic upon arrival
– Have a paper or digital copy of their proof of vaccination in English or French
– Have a suitable quarantine plan, should a quarantine become necessary.
Final determination of entry eligibility and quarantine requirements will be made by a government official at the border, based on the information presented at entry into Canada.
Using a new border testing surveillance program at airports and land border crossings, fully vaccinated travelers will not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected to complete a Day 1 Covid-19 molecular test. However, all travelers to Canada must still meet the pre-arrival testing requirements.
Question: Will Americans have to quarantine upon arrival in Canada?
Answer: Fully vaccinated travelers who meet requirements will be exempt from quarantine.
However, all travelers still must provide a quarantine plan and be prepared to quarantine in case it is determined at the border that they do not meet necessary requirements.
They should also be prepared in case they learn that someone they traveled with, or was exposed to, receives a positive result from an on-arrival test.
Question: Will Americans have to stay in a government-approved hotel?
Answer: No. The three-night, government-authorized hotel stay requirement will be eliminated for all travelers arriving by air on August 9.
Question: Can my unvaccinated children enter Canada with me?
Answer: Unvaccinated children younger than 12 traveling with fully vaccinated parents and/or guardians will no longer have to complete a 14-day quarantine, but must follow enhanced public health measures.
This means they can move around with their parents but must avoid group settings, such as camps or day care, during the first 14 days after their arrival.
Unvaccinated children will still have to take a Day 1 and Day 8 Covid-19 test.
A Day 1 test means a test on your day of arrival. However, not all land border crossings have testing on-site. Depending on where you cross, you may have the option to be tested there or given a test kit to do at home under the supervision of a nurse via video call.
Provinces and territories may have more stringent rules around people who have recently returned from travel.
Question: Have individual provinces, territories or cities established their own rules?
Answer: For specifics on local regulations, go to the “Covid-19 guidance for travelers” section of the website of Destination Canada, the Canadian government’s national tourism promotion board.
Question: How busy will popular Canadian tourist destinations be once Americans can cross the border to vacation there?
Answer: Historically, the United States has been Canada’s largest inbound market, delivering nearly 15 million arrivals in 2019.
Tourists are expected to return not only to major Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, Quebec City and Montreal, but also to Canadian natural wonders such as:
– Niagara Falls
– Banff National Park in Alberta
– The northern lights in the Northwest Territories
– The 23 beaches on Prince Edward Island
– The Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, home to the highest tides in the world.
Question: Will cheap airfares be available for American tourists?
Answer: Third-party booking sites such as Expedia offer many airfare options.
In addition, Air Canada just announced a new transborder schedule of 55 routes and 34 destinations in the United States, representing up to 220 daily flights between the two countries.
Question: What will happen to these new regulations if the Delta variant or other new variants of Covid-19 continue to spread?
Answer: As the evidence and epidemiological situations evolve in Canada and globally, additional border measure adjustments may be considered by the government of Canada.
Top image: The Canadian flag (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)