For the first time in more than two years, it will be possible for unvaccinated Americans to visit Canada without quarantining — and it will be a lot easier for vaccinated travelers to cross the border, too.
Canada will drop its Covid-19 vaccine requirement for visitors by September 30, government officials have told the Globe and Mail and other Canadian news outlets. On the same day, the country is reportedly also going to end random Covid arrival tests and make the ArriveCan app optional. But the requirement to wear masks on domestic flights and train trips will remain, according the sources.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has yet to formally sign off on the change, has been facing political pressure to loosen border rules. The opposing Conservative Party’s new leader, Pierre Poilivere, has campaigned for ditching both the ArriveCan app and remaining vaccination mandates.
The U.S.-Canada border was shut down in March 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic began. Canada reopened its border in August 2021 and the U.S. reopened in November 2021, but the two countries have imposed different restrictions and levels of enforcement.
Both Canada and the United States currently require foreign visitors to be vaccinated. To enter Canada, unvaccinated travelers must take a mandatory Covid test upon arrival and are subject to a 14-day quarantine. Currently, vaccinated foreign travelers entering Canada must upload Covid-19 documentation through the ArriveCan app.
This week, a coalition of more than three dozen Canadian and U.S. officials in border communities sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden asking to “return the Canada/USA border to a normal pre-pandemic state,” noting that some restrictions that have been lifted for air travel still exist for land crossings, which is hurting communities that depend on daily crossings of the border.
On this side of the border, there is also a push from some business leaders and government officials to move on from Covid. Last Sunday on “60 Minutes,” President Biden told Scott Pelley that the pandemic is over, though hundreds of Americans are dying every day from the disease.
Throughout the pandemic, airline CEOs in the U.S. often bristled about Covid-19 restrictions, arguing that they were hurting business. Most notably, the U.S. transportation mask mandate was a bone of contention between the government and airlines until a judge struck it down in April.
In July, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastien noted on the company’s Q2 earnings call that he expected international business travel to pick up in the second half of the year, thanks to the elimination of the pre-departure Covid test requirement for flights returning to the United States.
It’s not clear whether the United States would follow Canada’s lead and drop its own vaccination requirement for foreign visitors.