On Monday, the federal government announced Canadians who have received all doses of Health Canada-approved vaccines can avoid hotel quarantine and end home quarantine after getting a negative test result.
The new rules take effect July 5th. To be eligable, returning Canadiansmust have received their final dose of the vaccine at least 14 days before arriving in Canada.
The mandatory hotel stay requirement for Canadians returning to Canada by air took effect nearly 6 months ago, and has been widely criticized as an infringement on basic rights and freedoms as outlined in the Canadian Charter.
A recent Supreme Court ruling sided with the government and essentially overides the protections outlined in the Charter, even though the program "impinges" on liberty and results in detention, the limitations are justified by the government’s aim to protect public health. Hence in Canada, the government can dispose of your freedoms provided they can justify it is supported by government policy.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu explained "As we’ve told Canadians all along, easing measures at the border will happen as we see our communities increasingly become safe.” and “If you are planning to travel internationally this summer, remember to check the requirements of the country that you’re visiting.”
The announcement comes as many provinces hit their vaccination targets and several announce plans to fully reopen in early July. Alberta is dropping restrictions July 1st (formerly known as Canada Day), and Saskatchewan is dropping all restrictions July 11th.
The quarantine hotels are not going away as the changes only apply to Canadian citizens and permanent residents and the Canadian border will remain closed to non-citizens and non-residents without an essential reason for entry.
Since rules require travelers will be required to provide proof of vaccination through the government’s ArriveCAN app prior to their arrival, it is also possible that those without smart phones may not be excluded from the quarantine rules. Travelers are required to submit a quarantine plan on the ArriveCAN app as the government will not grant quarantine exemptions until the traveller arrives in Canada.
It is important to note that last week the Trudeau government announced that the Canada-US border will remain closed for non-essential travel until at least July 21, so this announcement comes as a welcome surprise to many. With Canadians possibly returning from destinations around the world, what is considered to be proof of vaccination also remains to be answered.
“As Canadians continue to get vaccinated, we’ll be carefully monitoring data here and around the world. We will be assessing our own rates of vaccination, cases, hospitalizations, and outbreaks and the disease activity in the rest of the world,” Hajdu added.
“We’ll watch these metrics carefully, as we plan the next phase of changes to border measures.”
This announcement could signify the beginning of the Covid passport requirement, as some sort of valid proof of vaccination would be required to qualify for the exemption.