COVID-19: Canada’s Border Restrictions Extended Again

COVID-19: Canada’s Border Restrictions Extended Again
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Canada immigration news: Despite calls to return international travel to a pre-pandemic normal, Canada is extending its existing COVID-19 border restrictions until at least the end of this month.

In a motion tabled in mid-May, Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman called on the government to “immediately revert to pre-pandemic rules and service levels for travel.”

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She described the wait times at Canadian airports as unacceptable, the current pandemic restrictions as ineffective, and the situation as exacerbating labour shortages in Canada. 

The MP for Thornhill also noted Canada’s international allies have already moved to lift COVID-19 restrictions at airports and other points of entry.

Government Nixes Motion To Return Canada To Pre-Pandemic Rules For Travel

That motion, though, died on the floor of the House of Commons. 

“Vote result: the motion was defeated,” tweeted Lantsman on Monday. “The government still has not shared any justification for their outdated and out-of-step restrictions.”

Ottawa’s decision to keep the pandemic restrictions is getting the thumbs up from those worried about another wave of COVID-19.

“The pandemic is not over,” tweeted one man. “Vaccines and pandemic-fatigue does not change the fact that a very bad respiratory illness is going around with the potential to severely harm people.”

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Many, though, are simply fed up with the travel restrictions and voicing their displeasure on social media.

“What a joke. These restrictions are outdated by at least six months,” tweeted one man. “COVID is here, it’s everywhere. What are you trying to accomplish now except generating long lines for international travellers?  

“This is just political theatre now.  I used to support these but they need to go.”

Travel Restrictions Were Eased A Bit In April

Ottawa did relax the travel restrictions somewhat on Apr. 1, allowing fully-vaccinated travellers to be able to come into the country without getting tested for COVID-19 unless they are randomly chosen for that testing.

But Transport Minister Omar Alghabra has reportedly said Ottawa wants to ensure it is striking the right balance between protecting public health and ease of travel.

There is also reportedly discussion of redefining “fully vaccinated” to mean having gotten only two shots of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine instead of the current three.

Canada has approved six COVID-19 vaccines:  

  • Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty;
  • Moderna Spikevax;
  • AstraZeneca Vaxzevria/Covishield;
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson;
  • Novavax/Nuvaxovid/Covovax, and;
  • Medicago Covifenz.

But, for now, the existing travel restrictions remain in place and will do so until the end of this month at the very least.

Partially or unvaccinated travellers who are five years of age or older – except for those who are explicitly exempt – still need to provide proof of an accepted type of pre-entry COVID-19 test result before they can come into Canada.

Unvaccinated Need To Provide Proof Of Test Results Before Entering Canada

The Canadian government’s website notes travellers who don’t qualify as fully-vaccinated must provide proof of one of the following accepted types of test results:

  • proof of a professionally administered or observed negative antigen test taken outside of Canada no more than one day before the scheduled flight or entry to Canada by land or water;
  • proof of a valid negative molecular test taken outside of Canada within 72 hours of the scheduled flight’s departure time to Canada or the traveller’s entry to Canada by land or water;
  • previous positive molecular test result when the travellers is no longer symptomatic and can provide proof of a positive molecular test taken at least 10 calendar days and no more than 180 calendar days before entering Canada. Counting starts the day after the test. 

Children under the age of five are exempt from the need for testing.

Upon entry into Canada, the unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated are required to take a COVID-19 test at the airport or receive a self-swab kit. They are also given a kit to use on the eighth day of their mandatory quarantine.

Travellers Need To Use ArriveCAN Mobile App Or Website

All travellers, vaccinated or not, also need to submit their mandatory information through the ArriveCAN mobile app or website before their arrival in Canada. 

Earlier this year,  Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos had left open the possibility that Canada’s travel restrictions could be either relaxed further or toughened up depending on the number of cases of the illness and the possible arrival of new variants.

“Adjustments to Canada’s border measures are made possible by a number of factors, including Canada’s high vaccination rate, the increasing availability and use of rapid tests to detect infection, decreasing hospitalizations and growing domestic availability of treatments for COVID-19,” said Duclos.

“As vaccination levels and healthcare system capacity improve, we will continue to consider further easing of measures at the borders-and when to adjust those measures-to keep the people in Canada safe.”

The health minister’s Twitter account made no mention, though, of the extension of the travel restrictions this week despite a reported 13-per cent drop in the number of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients in the week that ended on May 23. 

On Monday this week, the official COVID-19 statistics reportedly indicated there were less than 1,000 cases of the illness in Canada.

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