Fully vaccinated travelers soon will be able to travel to Canada without presenting a negative coronavirus test, the country’s public health agency announced Thursday. The eased policy goes into effect April 1 and applies to visitors who arrive by air, land or sea.
Until then, travelers who are 5 and older need to take a rapid antigen test within a day of their departure for Canada or a PCR test within 72 hours of their trip. A past positive test that is at least 10 days old can also be used as proof of recovery in lieu of a test. Canada requires travelers to upload the details of their trip and proof of vaccination to an online system called ArriveCAN.
Travelers who are not fully vaccinated will continue to follow those testing protocols after April 1. People who are not fully vaccinated may be denied entry to Canada and have to undergo a 14-day quarantine and additional testing.
In a statement included in the announcement, Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos cited decreasing coronavirus cases, high vaccination rates and a strict vaccination requirement for travel as factors that “set the stage” for easing restrictions. Individual provinces and territories in Canada decide other restrictions, with several lifting mask mandates in March.
According to tracking data compiled by The Washington Post, 82.6 percent of Canada’s population is fully vaccinated, which is among the highest rates in the world. The country has also seen an 11 percent drop in daily cases — now 89 per 100,000 people — over the week preceding Thursday. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still considers Canada a Level 4 risk for spreading coronavirus, recommending against travel to a country with a “very high” alert.
Canada’s shift to lift testing requirements for vaccinated travelers follows similar moves across Europe and — more recently — Southeast Asia. Cambodia dropped mandatory testing for vaccinated visitors Thursday, effective immediately. A day earlier, Vietnam reinstated its tourist visa program and scrapped quarantine rules for foreign visitors, but its pre-travel testing requirement remains in place.
While easing travel restrictions speak to a desire to reinvigorate economies and “live with the virus,” experts say outbreaks of an omicron subvariant known as BA. 2 in Western Europe could foreshadow another wave in the United States.