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Traveling to Canada during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

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If you’re planning to travel to Canada, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

Canada continues to ease out of its third Covid-19 wave and is now reporting an average of 2,000 cases a day.

There are strict rules on entry for all, including Canadian citizens and their relatives. All arrivals must quarantine for 14 days.

Canada has extended its ban on passenger flights from India and Pakistan for an additional 30 days, until June 21, 2021. Travelers who depart from those countries but arrive in Canada via an indirect route will need to obtain a negative COVID-19 pre-departure test from a third country before continuing their journey to Canada.

People older than five flying into Canada are required to provide written or electronic documentation showing they received a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR or RT-LAMP test conducted within 72 hours before their scheduled boarding.

Most incoming air travelers are required to take an additional Covid-19 test when they land and quarantine in a government-supervised hotel for up to three days at their own expense while awaiting the results.

If the test comes back negative, they can spend the remainder of their 14-day quarantine period at home.

At this time, vaccinated travelers are not exempt from any of these rules.

Meanwhile, flights from Canada to Mexico and the sun-soaked Caribbean are suspended until at least June 4.

As for travelers arriving by land, all visitors — with some exceptions — are required to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours of pre-arrival, or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days before arrival.

The Canadian government announced no cruise ships will be permitted to sail in Canadian waters until at least March 1, 2022.

Starting July 2, 2021, Air Canada will begin operating government-approved, Covid-tested flights to Rome, Italy from Toronto and Montréal.

What’s on offer

This is the ultimate destination for adventure. Whether it’s skiing and snowboarding in the Rockies or bear watching in the wilds of Ontario, Canada has everything to satisfy travelers who want to spend time in the great outdoors.

Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City are all perfect for city breaks, with first rate culture, food and entertainment on offer.

Who can go

Citizens and permanent residents are allowed to enter Canada, but they must quarantine for 14 days.

Immediate and extended family members, including those without Canadian citizenship, can enter for any reason as long as they are staying in the country for more than 15 days (they must also quarantine). Those coming for fewer than 15 days can only enter for an essential purpose.

All extended family members (but not immediate family) must also have written permission from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). For more information, click here. Only essential travel and transiting passengers are otherwise allowed.

What are the restrictions?

Earlier this year, Canada implemented further testing and quarantine requirements for international travelers arriving in Canada by air and land. Only four major airports are accepting international flights: Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

All permitted arrivals must use the ArriveCAN app or website to submit travel and contact information, a 14-day quarantine plan and a Covid-19 symptom self-assessment.

The quarantine plan must detail where you will stay, how you will get there and how you will arrange for delivery of essentials such as groceries and medicine. Failure to stick to the plan can lead to six months’ jail time and a CAD$750,000 (US$593,000) fine.

Additionally, all arrivals are given a health screening by a border officer to assess any symptoms.

Canada’s national public broadcaster, the CBC reports the government is looking at a multi-phase approach to reopening the border with the US that would begin with allowing fully vaccinated travelers to enter starting this summer.

You can keep up with detailed travel rules among the provinces here.

What’s the Covid-19 situation?

Canada is now in the midst of a nationwide Covid-19 vaccine program. According to Canada’s official vaccine tracker, more than 62% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose and about 8% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Canada dealt with the initial wave of Covid-19 well. However, a deadly second wave in late 2020 led to new lockdowns.

Currently, the country is recovering from a third wave of the virus and multiple provinces are easing their restrictions in response.

What can visitors expect?

Mask mandates vary between provinces.

Multiple provinces are relaxing the rules on social gatherings, indoor dining and travel in line with reduced case counts and rising vaccination rates, including Alberta and British Columbia.

Quebec eased restrictions from May 28, dropping a curfew and allowing restaurants to serve patrons on their terraces.

Ontario has unveiled a three-stage reopening plan, with restaurants now allowed to serve patrons outside.

Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province, has adopted some of the country’s strictest Covid-19 prevention measures, with nonresidents needing to apply for approval to visit in advance.

Most Canadian provinces continue to advise people to keep a distance of two meters (6.5 feet) to cut the spread of the virus.

At this time, inter-provincial travel is discouraged.

Useful links

Covid Alert app


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