American tourists are allowed to travel to Canada from today, followed by visitors from elsewhere in September—but before you dig out your passport and jump online to book flights, here are some things to consider while planning a trip there.
Canada has opened its borders for non-essential travel on August 9 for the first time since March 2020. Although fully vaccinated residents and citizens living overseas have been able to return to Canada since July 5, the rest of the world has been effectively shut out. But the situation is is changing thanks to the acceleration of Canada's vaccine rollout, which has been bolstered by the strong vaccine uptake among Canadians, and the gradual decline in new coronavirus case numbers. If this trend continues, after Canada opens its borders to Americans today, it will be ready to allow the rest of the world in from September 7, provided they're fully vaccinated and can prove it.
Traveling to Canada? Here's what you need
The main requirement to enter Canada is for travelers to be fully vaccinated. Canada currently accepts the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines from visitors. Those who are vaccinated can travel safely two weeks after their final dose, or two weeks after their one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Travelers will also be required to present a negative COVID-19 result from a test taken within 72 hours of their departure—regardless of their vaccination status—and must present the results before boarding their flight. They're asked to provide their proof of vaccination, test results and contact information through the ArriveCAN mobile app, a web-based form or a paper form, within three days of departure, and some may be randomly selected to a screening at the border to assess their potential risk to public health.
Can unvaccinated children visit Canada?
Fully vaccinated parents or guardians will be allowed to bring unvaccinated children under 12 years of age to Canada, but those children will still be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival.
Will I have to quarantine when I arrive in Canada?
No, fully vaccinated travelers won’t need to quarantine upon their arrival. However, the government advised visitors to have a two-week quarantine plan in place in case officials determine they don’t meet all of Canada’s pandemic border requirements.
Current lockdown status in Canada
Lockdowns began to lift in late spring, but with the coronavirus still circulating some public health measures are in place and generally vary between provinces and territories, so check the government’s resource page for destination-specific information. Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, require visitors to fill in an additional travel form before their trip, as does Nova Scotia (see here). Also, it's important to be aware that some Indigenous communities are not accepting visitors at this time.
Hotels have reopened with enhanced cleaning protocols, and restaurants and bars are also welcoming guests for both outdoor and indoor service, though some have capacity limits in place. In Manitoba, for instance, restaurant capacity is limited to 50%. Cultural spaces like museums and theaters in some provinces are limiting the number of people allowed at a time, installing physical barriers, and increasing their ventilation systems, among other preventative measures. Always plan ahead before visiting as you may need to book tickets in advance to gain entry.
Some provinces have lifted mask mandates including Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. It's still a good idea to pack a mask regardless of where you're traveling to in Canada as you'll need it for your flight, and it may be required on public transport and in some public spaces.
If you're after Canada's famous outdoor adventure activities and extreme sports, you'll be happy to know that most of the major parks are open but be aware that access to some visitor sites may be limited. According to Parks Canada, "only those places where measures can be implemented to minimize health and safety risks will be open to the public. Changes to services or even closures may happen quickly as the situation with COVID-19 changes." Plan your visit and check the latest updates for your destination here.
Niagara Falls is open for viewing in Queen Victoria Park and most attractions in the area are open, as well as shuttles, restaurants and accommodation. Most hiking and cycling trails in Banff National Park are open for day use and many of the park’s campgrounds are accepting guests.
Always plan ahead and check the latest public health advice as rules vary and can change with little notice.
Source: Lonely Planet