Here are the new rules on the way for the Canada-U.S. border
While the federal and provincial governments are still advising against non-essential travel, some changes to the rules at Canadian border entry points are being introduced tomorrow, Jan. 15.
For some, coming into the country will get a little easier under the revised measures, and for others, it will be more difficult.
The first change is that those who have had COVID-19 in recent weeks — which is many of us — will be able to cross in sooner after infection than they could previously.
Thus far, passengers have needed to show either negative results from a molecular COVID-19 test taken within three days of travel or positive results from a test taken 14 to 180 days ago, which was changed just recently to 15 to 180 days ago.
(This is not only in acknowledgement of some natural immunity from previous infection, but also the fact that people who've had the virus may test positive for weeks after they are no longer ill or contagious.)
But, starting Saturday, this window will now be between 11 and 180 days ago, meaning those who have had COVID recently or happen to test positive while on a trip can come home sooner.
This is a tad more in line with the new rules from both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Province of Ontario that mandate only a five-day isolation period following contraction, down from the two weeks and then 10 days that it used to be.
Another amendment is also being made for unvaccinated persons entering the country: certain entry exemptions will no longer be accepted.
Though unvaccinated foreign nationals are still banned from discretionary travel to Canada, certain groups have been permitted for "essential" reasons, such as international students 18 and older, professional and amateur athletes, those working in certain industries, those coming to reunite with family, non-Canadians who have a temporary work permit, and more.
But, these groups will no longer be permitted entry if not fully inoculated against COVID-19. The rule will also apply to some of those taking a connecting flight through Canada.
"As of Nov. 30, 2021, travellers need to be fully vaccinated to travel within Canada with very few exceptions. There is a limited period, until Jan. 14, 2022, during which individuals in specified exempt groups can continue to enter the country if unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, as well as take a connecting flight to their final destination that is scheduled to depart within 24 hours of the departure time of their flight to enter Canada," the government's website reads.
"If they remain unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, they will not be allowed to take a plane or train beyond their original connection, except to depart Canada before February 28, 2022. As such, all travellers are strongly advised to make plans to get vaccinated as soon as they can, in order to travel freely in and outside the country."
New permanent residents, refugees, eligible international students under 18, agricultural and food processing workers, foreign marine crew members, truck drivers and a few select others will continue to be exempt to this vaccination mandate on a case-by-case basis.
Border and lockdown restrictions have continued to shift with the ever-changing COVID situation, like when those embarking on short trips of less than 72 hours were able to cross back into Canada without any sort of test requirement — a modification that lasted only a few weeks before it was switched back again.
The CDC recently issued a memo deeming Canada to a "very high risk" destination and advising Americans not to travel north of the border given how the health crisis is unfolding here at the moment.
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