When can Americans finally travel to Canada?

when can you travel to canada
Photo via Chris Connelly/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Nonessential travel between the United States and Canada has been closed since March 21, 2020, just 10 days after the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Since the pandemic, the two countries have reassessed monthly and decided to renew the closure in the interim. But 16 months later, the answer to when you can travel to Canada is growing a little more clear.

With mounting pressure to reopen, both to reunite families and revitalize tourism (Canada is the second most popular foreign destination for Americans after Mexico), the northern country is finally ready to welcome back travelers from outside its borders.

On July 19, Canadian federal officials announced that beginning Aug. 9, American citizens and permanent U.S. residents who have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days will be permitted to enter Canada. The country is also removing the mandatory quarantine period for eligible visitors and air travelers, in tandem with the decision.

Visitors from other countries may begin to enter Canada on Sept. 7, though that date may be subject to change.

Travelers will be required to present Canadian border officials with a digital or paper copy of their vaccination card and will only accept vaccines approved for Canadian residents. (These include the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Serum Institute of India, and Janssen vaccines, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and used in Canada.)

However, regardless of vaccination status, all travelers will also be required to present a negative test taken within 72 hours before arrival. Officials also advise travelers to come prepared with a quarantine plan if it’s determined they do not meet the requirements when arriving at the Canadian border.

The reason Canada is allowing you to travel there is because the country has made rapid progress with vaccinations in recent months. In fact, Canada’s vaccination rates have actually now surpassed the U.S. with 50% of its population fully vaccinated. Seventy-five percent of residents have received at least one dose—the latter benchmark set by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before reopening.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has fully vaccinated 48.6% of its population with 56.3% getting at least one dose.

The U.S. has not yet made a decision on resuming nonessential travel from Canada. However, shortly after Canada’s announcement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a press briefing that the U.S. would continue travel restrictions for now.

“We are continuing to review our travel restrictions. Any decisions about reopening travel will be guided by our public health and medical experts. We take this incredibly seriously, but we look and are guided by our own medical experts,” said Psaki. “I wouldn’t look at it through a reciprocal intention.”

In June, the Department of Homeland Security announced on Twitter that nonessential travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico would extend until July 21. After that, the U.S. is expected to decide whether it will extend border closures with the neighboring countries by another month or lift them altogether.

Sources: New York Times, NPR

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