Starting Monday, fully vaccinated Canadians will be able to return home without needing to quarantine. Photo by Andre Pichette/EPA-EFE
July 5 (UPI) -- Plans to open the Canada-U.S. border will be rolled out in the coming weeks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday, the first day fully vaccinated Canadians were allowed to return home without needing to quarantine.
Canada, the United States and Mexico have had mutual bans for non-essential travel in place since March of 2020, which have been extended until July 21.
However, starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents will be allowed to return home without needing to quarantine for two weeks if they have received the full regimen of doses of a vaccine approved by the Canadian government. Air travelers will also be exempt from having to spend three days at a government-approved hotel upon arrival and the day-8 testing requirement will also be waived.
To be eligible for entry, one must have received their last dose 14 days before attempting to enter Canada.
Proof of vaccination must also be presented through the use of the ArriveCan smartphone application, which was also released on Monday. Those who don't have the correct documentation will not be exempt.
As the exemptions were put in place the Canada Border Services Agency reminded potential travelers that "travel restrictions have not changed."
"Discretionary (non-essential) travel is still prohibited by foreign nationals, including the U.S., regardless of vaccination status," the department said via Twitter.
Trudeau in the southern border city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., told reporters during a press conference Monday that the loosening of restrictions was "a big step" and that he expects further measures to be announced soon.
"We're very hopeful that we're going to see new steps on reopening announced in the coming weeks," he said. "We're going to make sure that we're not seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases because nobody wants to go back to further restrictions after having done so much and sacrificed so much to get to this point."
Following an initially slow vaccine rollout, Canada has in the past few months improved to one of the best in the world with more than 68% of the population having received at least one shot as of Friday, according to Oxford University's Our World in Data project.
Trudeau acknowledged that the government knows restrictions are difficult on businesses, especially tourism, but said it has put the safety of Canadians at the forefront of all its pandemic-related decisions.
Concerning when fully vaccinated Americans will be able to enter Canada, Trudeau told reporters that the pandemic is still ongoing.
"We are almost there," he said. "How much of a shame would it be if in a few weeks we had to go back into lockdown? If tourism offices had to re-close and cancel bookings? That's why we are taking a gradual, measured approach that puts the safety of everyone first and foremost every step of the way."