By John Flett
Canada Begins Slow Lifting of Travel Restrictions for Vaccinated Citizens
The Canadian federal government is gradually lifting restrictions on non-essential travel for fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents, according to CTVNews. Restrictions on travel have been in place for over a year with restrictive hotel quarantine arrangements introduced in February. The provision for a three-day hotel quarantine followed by self-isolation was aimed at reducing international travel into the country and has been roundly criticized by the aviation industry and tourism organizations.
In announcing the tentative measures to minimize travel restrictions Health Minister Patty Hajdu made clear any relaxation would be contingent on low case rates, management of Coronavirus variants, vaccination rates and consultation with provincial governments. “These metrics are very important factors as we move towards implementing the changes on the border that we hope to have in place in early July,” said Hajdu. “If we can keep our communities safe and free of COVID, then we will not have to return to measures that are so difficult for everyone.”
According to Reuters the Canadian Airports Council said it was “disappointed the new measures were not extended to all vaccinated travelers and that there is still no plan for a restart of travel.” This follows an announcement on Tuesday by the United States State Department easing travel warnings for dozens of foreign countries including Canada. However under the easing of restrictions announced north of the border, U.S. tourists would still not be able to travel freely to Canada. Restrictions would also continue to apply to non-Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
Canadian and U.S, officials have formed an ‘expert working group’ to expedite the reopening of the U.S. – Canadian border. A White House official said: “While we are not reopening travel today, we hope that these expert working groups will help us use our collective expertise to chart a path forward, with a goal of reopening international travel with our key partners when it is determined that it is safe to do so,” adding “any decisions will be fully guided by the objective analysis and recommendations by public health and medical experts.”
Fully vaccinated Canadians would still be required to submit a negative COVID PCR prior to departure and submit to a test upon arrival into Canada. It is still unclear how travelers will prove their vaccination status through a digital certificate utilized by the European Union and integration into an existing app as the U.K. have done with the NHS may provide a template. The ArriveCAN app that travelers are required to use before arrival into Canada may appear to be the most appropriate solution.
As of Thursday, June 10, 70 percent of eligible Canadians have had their first vaccination dose with just under 10 percent have received a second dose.