Essential travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, first instituted in March 2020, between the United States and Canada (and Mexico), will continue until July 21, 2021, or be lifted sooner for fully vaccinated individuals. This is welcome news for communities on both sides of the Northern Border that have been feeling the familial and economic pain.
Not only are Canadians and Americans missing their family members and friends who live on the other side of the border, but many of the small U.S. towns along the Northern Border have suffered from the disruption of “a symbiotic relationship” with Canadian consumers. Because prices on common consumer goods such as gasoline and milk are considerably lower in the United States, Canadians used to be able to simply cross the border for purchases. But due to travel restrictions, sales have dropped off precipitously. Canadians used to have items shipped to U.S. border towns to avoid the high cost of international shipping to Canada. But since they can no longer easily cross the border to pick up their packages, mailbox service firms are flooded with goods that have not been picked up or are simply losing money every month for lack of business. Although large chain stores are better able to absorb these temporary losses, small businesses cannot, and they are anxious to have the restrictions lifted.
There is hope, however, that the restrictions are easing. Working groups have been established to study the issue, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that restrictions will not be lifted until 75 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated. Canada’s chief medical officer has estimated that if vaccinations continue at current rates, that goal may be reached within weeks. Further, as of 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on July 5, 2021, restrictions on fully vaccinated individuals (who are otherwise eligible to enter Canada, i.e., not subject to essential travel restrictions) will be eased. Fully vaccinated individuals who have had the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Jansen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines will no longer need to quarantine, participate in a mandatory hotel stay, or take COVID-19 tests eight days after their arrival if they meet the eligibility requirements. Whether they do or not will be decided at the border.
To qualify for the “fully vaccinated” exemption, travelers must, among other things:
- Submit COVID-19-related information into ArriveCAN in advance of arrival;
- Meet pre- and on-arrival test requirements;
- Be asymptomatic;
- Have an acceptable quarantine plan (in case quarantine is necessitated); and
- Carry written proof of vaccination in English or French (or with a certified translation).
A detailed outline of the requirements is on the Government of Canada website.
Please reach out to your Jackson Lewis attorney with any questions about continuing COVID-19 travel restrictions.