The government of Canada announced, on July 19, 2021, that the Canada-U.S. border, which has been closed to non-discretionary travel since March 21, 2020, will be reopened for eligible Americans on August 9, 2021, at 12:01 AM EST, and September 7, 2021, for those elsewhere in the world.
As a reminder, until recently, Canada’s borders were closed to all international travelers (including U.S. travelers) for non-essential travel. Individuals who remained eligible to enter the country (Canadian citizens or permanent residents) must be quarantined for 14 days upon entering, subject to very limited exceptions.
On July 5, 2021, travel restrictions were loosened for Canadian citizens, permanent residents and other eligible fully vaccinated travelers by eliminating the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for those arriving in Canada. Therefore, eligible travelers who can prove they are fully vaccinated no longer need to quarantine.
The new measures, which the government of Canada announced today, extend the fully vaccinated quarantine exemption to U.S. citizens subject to certain conditions.
To be eligible to enter Canada without the need to quarantine, U.S. citizens and permanent residents, living in the United States will need to:
- Take a 72-hour pre-travel COVID-19 molecular test and present evidence of a negative test result prior to entering the country (or boarding their flights);
- Have received a full dosage of one of the four approved vaccines (Pfizer -BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Janssen) at least 14 days prior to travelling;
- Upload their proof-of-vaccination status to the ArriveCAN app before being allowed to board their flights and show their vaccine certificates to Canadian Border Services Agency officials; and
- Possibly submit to a mandatory post-flight test if randomly selected.
At this time, the United States has not stated whether it will allow Canadians to enter across the land border for non-essential travel. However, Canadians may still enter the United States via air for nondiscretionary travel purposes.
The government also announced that it is lifting the mandatory three-night quarantine at a government-approved hotel as of August 9, 2021, for individuals who are not fully vaccinated, but the government will continue to require an appropriate quarantine plan from these individuals.
This policy change comes as a great relief to employers with cross-border operations. It will relax the rules currently in place restricting travel. Employees will just need to be fully vaccinated, and provide a negative COVID-19 test.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to this proposed legislation. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.
Hugh A. Christie is the managing partner of the Toronto office of Ogletree Deakins.
Ryan Martin is an associate in the Montréal office of Ogletree Deakins.
John T. Wilkinson is a law student, currently participating in the summer associate program in the Toronto office of Ogletree Deakins.