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Traveling to Canada during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN Staff

If you’re planning to travel to Canada, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

Canada is currently easing out of a surge in cases led by the Omicron variant, leading some provinces to loosen recent restrictions.

The country was moved to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s highest-risk category for travel on January 10.

Canada is now recording an average of 5,000 new cases per day.

In the summer of 2021, the Canadian government eased its mandatory two-week quarantine requirement for all fully vaccinated travelers entering the country.

What’s on offer

This is the ultimate destination for adventure. Whether it’s skiing and snowboarding in the Rockies or bear watching in the wilds of Ontario, Canada has everything to satisfy travelers who want to spend time in the great outdoors.

Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City are all perfect for city breaks, with first rate culture, food and entertainment on offer.

Who can go

Citizens and permanent residents are allowed to enter Canada, but if unvaccinated they must self-quarantine for 14 days.

Vaccinated international travelers are allowed to enter as of September 7, 2021. Accepted Covid-19 vaccines in Canada are: Pfizer-BioNTech; Moderna; AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD; Janssen/Johnson & Johnson; Sinopharm; Sinovac; and COVAXIN, matching the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL).

“Foreign nationals who are not fully vaccinated will continue to be required to meet an exemption or be traveling for a non-discretionary purpose,” says the Government of Canada website.

In March, Canada announced it will lift its Covid-19 pre-entry test requirement for fully vaccinated travelers beginning April 1, saying that the pandemic was entering a “transition phase.” The requirement will be dropped for air, land and water ports of entry.

Until then, rapid tests may be taken the day before arriving in the country, and PCR tests can be taken 72 hours before a scheduled flight or arrival at the border. However, taking a rapid antigen test at home is not sufficient to meet the pre-entry requirement — “it must be authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service.”

Also, the Canadian government will no longer recommend that Canadians avoid nonessential travel.

Read more on the changes here.

What are the restrictions?

All permitted arrivals must use the ArriveCAN app or website to submit travel and contact information, a 14-day quarantine plan (if unvaccinated) and a Covid-19 symptom self-assessment.

The quarantine plan must detail where you will stay, how you will get there and how you will arrange for delivery of essentials such as groceries and medicine. Failure to stick to the plan can lead to six months’ jail time and a CAD$750,000 (US$593,000) fine.

Additionally, all arrivals are given a health screening by a border officer to assess any symptoms.

In early October, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a nationwide Covid-19 vaccine mandate for rail and air travelers as well as staff. “By the end of November, if you’re 12 or older and want to fly or take the train, you’ll have to be fully vaccinated,” said Trudeau, noting that “testing will no longer be an option before boarding a train or a flight” in Canada.

What’s the Covid-19 situation?

Cases numbers in Canada are dropping following a dramatic surge in Covid-19 cases led by the Omicron variant.

At the peak of the latest outbreak in early January, the country was reporting an average of 37,000 new cases per day — a sharp rise from the 3,000 per day average recorded in early December. Canada is presently reporting 5,000 cases per day on average.

About 81% of the population is fully vaccinated for Covid-19 as of March 14, 2022.

What can visitors expect?

Provinces have been relaxing the rules on social gatherings, indoor dining, masks and travel in recent months in response to rising vaccination rates and a decrease in cases.

Most Canadian provinces continue to advise people to keep a distance of two meters (6.5 feet) to cut the spread of the virus.

You can keep up with detailed travel rules among the provinces here.

Useful links

Covid Alert app


Our recent coverage

When Covid-19 restrictions made it difficult for a Canadian bride to have her family at her US wedding, she did the next best thing — she brought her wedding to the border. Read more about their special day here.

Canada has reopened to US travelers. Find out more in our guide to crossing the border.

Ottawa made it into our list of best winter cities. We’ve looked at Old Quebec’s European charm. And if you’re into extreme skiing, Canada has options here. The Revitalization Project tattoos women in the remote Inuit communities.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley, Paula Newton and Karla Cripps contributed to this report.

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