Canada has announced it would allow fully vaccinated U.S. tourists into the country starting from 9 August, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced an unprecedented 16-month travel ban that many businesses claimed was crippling them.
Fully vaccinated U.S. travellers will be allowed to enter Canada for the first time in 16-months from 9 August, in a bit to begin the arrival revival of the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries.
Inoculated visitors from countries other than the United States will also be permitted to enter from 7 September. However, the relaxation depends on Canada’s COVID-19 rates remaining favourable, officials said.
“Thanks to the rising vaccination rates and declining COVID-19 cases, we are able to move forward with adjusted border measures,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference in Brampton, Ontario.
Some 50% of Canadian residents are fully vaccinated, and 75% have had one shot, government officials said.
Businesses in Canada and the United States, particularly the travel and airline industries, pushed for an end to restrictions on non-essential travel between the two countries, which were imposed in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.
Since then, the land border has been closed to all non-essential travel. However, the United States has allowed Canadians to fly in, while Canada has not allowed Americans to do the same.
“As Canada moves from recovery into growth, having workable border measures for fully vaccinated travellers is critical for Canadian businesses,” said Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
People eligible to enter Canada must have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days beforehand. Children under 12 who are not vaccinated will not be required to quarantine if travelling with their fully inoculated parents.
The government repeated that Canadians should still avoid non-essential travel abroad.
The news should be a boost for Canada’s hard-hit airlines which have recovered more slowly from the pandemic than their U.S. counterparts. Ottawa is also lifting the requirement that all travellers arriving by air must spend three nights in a hotel.
Canada’s second-largest carrier, WestJet Airlines, said it was operating at 60% capacity in July compared with pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Calgary-based WestJet said the move was a “significant and positive step forward”. Shares in Air Canada – the nation’s largest airline – were trading down more than 3% in Toronto on Monday amid a broader decline.
Mike McNaney, President and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada, whose members include Air Canada and WestJet, welcomed the announcement but said, “we have almost lost the summer travel season.”
In a statement, Air Canada said the loosening of the border restrictions was “an important step” and added that it had announced a new summer schedule with up to 220 daily flights between the U.S. and Canada.
Last week the Canadian Government also brought forward the rescinding of its original February 1 ban on cruise ships entering Canadian waters.
This lead to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz calling for a similarly detailed plan for Australia’s domestic cruising revival.
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