July 19 (UPI) -- U.S. citizens who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed entry into Canada for non-essential travel beginning next month, Canadian health officials announced Monday.
Beginning Aug. 9, Americans who have completed regimens of approved vaccines can enter the country for discretionary travel if they can provide proof of vaccination and meet several other criteria, the Public Health Agency of Canada said in an official update.
If the new rules are implemented as scheduled, non-essential travel between the United States and Canada would be allowed to resume for the first time since the earliest stages of the pandemic in March 2020.
Unvaccinated American children under the age of 12 will also be allowed entry after Aug. 9 if accompanied by a qualified parent or adult guardian.
The government said it intends to further open its borders starting Sept. 7 when it will allow fully vaccinated travelers from any country to enter Canada as long as they can show they had become immunized at least 14 days before entry.
Both moves are strictly dependent on the "domestic epidemiologic situation" remaining favorable, officials cautioned.
"Canadians' safety and security always come first," Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a statement. "With rising vaccination rates and fewer cases in Canada, we can begin to safely ease border measures. A gradual approach to reopening will allow our health authorities to monitor the COVID-19 situation here and abroad."
"I can tell you that as we made decisions around reopening to the world in early September and to American travelers a few weeks before that we kept the American government fully apprised of exactly those issues," he said.
But, Trudeau added, "every country makes its own decisions about its own borders."
Also starting Aug. 9, requirements that international travelers quarantine for three nights at a government-authorized hotel will be scrapped.
International flights carrying passengers will initially be allowed to land at airports in Halifax, Québec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton.