Canada announces it’s dropping testing requirement at border

Starting April 1, fully vaccinated travelers won’t be required to complete a pre-entry COVID-19 test.

By David Rasbach / The Bellingham Herald

BELLINGHAM — One day before the two-year anniversary of Canada and the U.S. agreeing to close their land border due the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic, Canada announced that it soon will make crossing the border from Whatcom County easier than it’s been in the past two years, at least if you’re fully vaccinated.

Starting April 1, fully vaccinated travelers entering Canada will not be required to complete a pre-entry COVID-19 test, Canadian Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced in a virtual briefing Thursday, March 17.

News of the change in travel requirements at the border was reported Wednesday, March 16, but it wasn’t until Thursday that the Canadian government made the move official.

Fully vaccinated travelers still may be randomly selected to testing upon arrival, Duclos said, but they will not be required to quarantine while awaiting the results.

“We were are in a much better position today than in 2020,” Duclos said through a translator. “High vaccination and strong adherence to public health measures have pushed us through the peak of the omicron wave.

“We have more tools, like the widely available rapid tests and a range of new treatments that can help some patients from getting seriously ill. We can now say that we are in a transition phase and … we can now announce other changes at the border.”

But for travelers who are not fully vaccinated, molecular testing still will be required upon arrival, Duclos said. They will also be required to quarantine for 14 days and be tested a second time on Day 8.

All travelers also will be required to submit information, including vaccination status, through the ArriveCAN website or app, Duclos said.

“Today’s announcement is encouraging, but I will remind you, all measures are subject to review,” Duclos said through the translator. “We will continue to adjust them as the epidemiological situation evolves.”

To be considered fully vaccinated for travel into Canada, the country requires at least two accepted vaccine doses, a mix of two accepted vaccine doses or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and at least 14 days to have passed before entering Canada. Travelers also must not have any COVID-19 symptoms.

Duclos’ announcement came one day short of the two-year anniversary of Canada and the U.S. each closing their border to non-essential travel in an effort to slow the spread of COVID on March 18, 2020. That temporary border closure lasted 597 for entry into the U.S. until Nov. 8, 2021, though Canada began allowing non-essential travel approximately three months earlier.

As of Feb. 16, the U.S. still requires full vaccination for entry into the U.S. at land borders, but no proof of a negative test is required, according to the U.S. Embassy and Consulates webpage. U.S. citizens do not need to provide proof of vaccination.

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