COVID-19 in Canada: Could some Canadians be left out of future U.S. travel rules?

·2-min read
U.S. Customs and Protection officers stand beside a sign saying that the border is closed to non-essential traffic at the Canada-United States border crossing at the Thousand Islands Bridge, which remains closed to non-essential traffic to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lansdowne, Ontario, Canada September 28, 2020. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg

Following Monday's announcement of upcoming loosening of restrictions for international travellers coming to Canada, including welcoming Americans for non-essential travel beginning on Aug. 9, Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer, said the remaining rules are based on "reasonable risk management."

"We have a more resilient population in terms of protections...against COVID-19," Dr. Njoo said on Tuesday. "Fully vaccinated travellers, if they have adequate proof, certainly would pose, I would say, a much reduced risk in terms of both importation and even further transmission of the virus once they enter Canada."

In addition to proof of vaccination, travellers coming to Canada must also take a pre-departure COVID-19 test, regardless of vaccination status.

"The reason for the pre-departure test is that we know that no vaccine's perfect and also the test, I think, gives us at least a level of assurance that should someone show up before they even get to Canada with a positive test, then obviously they shouldn't be allowed to, let's say in this case, board a plane and then come to Canada," Dr. Njoo said.

Will Canadians vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine see restrictions from the U.S.?

While Canada is loosening restrictions for fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents residing in the U.S. who want to come to Canada, American officials have not yet announced a reciprocal arrangement, particularly for travel by land.

"I will remind you that vaccinated or unvaccinated Canadians have been allowed to go down to Florida over the entire course of this pandemic," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday. 

"The Americans have always had an asymmetrical arrangement with us where even though we put in a barrier to tourists or non-essential travel from the U.S. and from the rest of the world...Canadians have throughout the pandemic been able to fly down to the States."

"But that hasn't prevented us from working very, very closely to align ourselves... Canada is proceeding in a responsible, gradual way," Trudeau added. 

Some Canadians who have received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, for either one of two doses, are also looking for answers around possible restrictions they may face entering the U.S., since the viral vector vaccine is not currently authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"There has [been] from the beginning of the pandemic a very considerable effort amongst countries...to share scientific information and for Health Canada authorities to talk to their counterparts," Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said at a press conference on Tuesday.

"But at the same time, we don’t...tell American health authorities the best way and the best judgement they have in terms of what is the appropriate vaccine regime. But that being said, there are ongoing conversations and we expect over the coming weeks that advice to evolve."

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