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19 Jul, 2021 21:35

Canada to open borders to Americans for first time since March 2020...but only fully vaccinated visitors will be allowed

Canada to open borders to Americans for first time since March 2020...but only fully vaccinated visitors will be allowed

Canada's government plans to start allowing non-essential US travelers to cross its border for the first time since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, beginning August, as long as they're fully vaccinated against the virus.

The border will open to Americans on August 9, but they must have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before travel, Ottawa said in a statement on Monday. Vaccinated travelers from other countries will be able to enter the country starting on September 7, “provided that the domestic epidemiologic situation remains favorable,” according to the statement.

The only Covid-19 vaccines that will be accepted are those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Travelers who can't provide proof of vaccination, or whose jab isn't on Canada's approved list, will be turned away.

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“The government of Canada recognizes that people have been anxiously awaiting a reopening of the border to the world,” said Bill Blair, public health and emergency preparedness minister. “We have been fully engaged with our American counterparts, given the deep economic and family ties between our two countries.” He added that border measures are being eased based on “scientific evidence and the advice of our public health experts.”

President Joe Biden's administration hasn't yet reciprocated. The US remains closed to non-essential Canadian travelers. Any reopening decisions will be guided by public health experts, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday. “But we look, and are guided by, our own medical experts,” she said. “I wouldn't look at it through a reciprocal intention.”

About 70% of Canadians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, the highest rate among G20 nations. The US, by comparison, is at 56%.

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Even vaccinated travelers will need a pre-entry Covid-19 molecular test. Some also will be randomly selected to be tested on the day they arrive.

All travelers, including returning Canadians, should have a quarantine plan in case it's determined at the border that they need to be isolated, the government said. Starting August 9, arriving airline passengers will no longer be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for three days.

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