The Government of Canada has announced it will soon change its COVID-19 travel requirements for visitors. News of the announcement has been expected for more than 1 week.
Here’s what’s changing: Beginning February 28 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern, travelers who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will be able to enter Canada as long as they have proof of a negative antigen test taken the day before their scheduled flight to Canada or arrival at Canada’s land border or marine port of entry. Until then, however, Canada will still require all travelers 5 years old or older to provide proof of a negative PCR molecular test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival, regardless of their vaccination status.
“Recent data indicates that the latest wave of COVID-19 driven by the omicron variant has passed its peak in Canada,” the Public Health Agency of Canada explains. “As provinces and territories adjust their public health measures, and as we transition away from the crisis phase, it is now time to move toward a more sustainable approach to long-term management of COVID-19.”
The change in requirements is possible due to several key factors, including Canada’s high vaccination rates, the increasing availability and use of rapid antigen tests to detect infection, and decreasing hospitalization rates, Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s minister of health, said at a press conference.
“For 2 years now, our government’s actions in the fight against COVID-19 have been based on prudence and science. Today’s announcements are a reflection of the progress we have made against this current omicron variant,” Duclos said. “As we have said all along, Canada’s border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, for potential future scenarios.”
A Rapidly Changing Situation
As was noted, the change in Canada’s travel requirements is partly due to the country’s declining COVID-19 case counts.
Indeed, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, a record high number of new COVID-19 cases (271,760) were reported in Canada the week of January 3–9, 2022. Importantly, however, that number has now fallen to 60,389 new cases for the past week.
The other critical number is Canada’s rising vaccination rate. As of February 6, 2022, just over 79 percent of Canada’s population has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, according to Canada’s COVID-19 database. What’s more, just over 52 percent of Canada’s population age 18 or older is fully vaccinated and has received a booster dose as well.
What Will Be Required To Enter Canada
Here’s what you need to know if you are planning a trip to Canada.
First, of course, fully vaccinated travelers will be able to enter Canada on February 28 with proof of a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test result from a test taken the day before their scheduled flight or their arrival at the land border or marine port of entry. Fully vaccinated travelers do have a choice, though, if they want to use proof of a negative PCR molecular test instead, that is acceptable when the test was taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry.
It must be emphasized that taking a rapid antigen test at home is not sufficient to meet Canada’s pre-entry requirement. Canada’s Public Health Agency notes that the antigen test must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity, or telehealth service.
Secondly, fully vaccinated travelers from any country may be randomly selected for COVID-19 testing upon arrival in Canada. However, in another important change, they will not be required to quarantine while they wait for the test result.
“Mandatory, random testing of all vaccinated travelers will facilitate travel for Canadians while helping our public health authorities detect future changes in COVID-19 importation rates and variants of concern,” minister of health Duclos said.
Know Before You Go
There are two things to remember before traveling to Canada. First, keep in mind that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that there is a “Very High Level of COVID-19 in Canada” and that U.S. citizens should “Avoid travel to Canada.”
Secondly, Canada’s government reminds all prospective travelers to make sure they are eligible to enter Canada before arriving at the border. You can learn how to do that here.
If you’re starting to plan a trip, be sure to read all of our Canada coverage, including