Fully vaccinated Canadians returning to the country from abroad expressed relief Monday at no longer having to quarantine for two weeks.
Effective this week, citizens and permanent residents who’ve had a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada can skip the 14-day quarantine. Eligible air travellers also no longer have to spend their first three days in the country at a government-approved hotel.
Julia Dunn, who landed at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport from the United States while on her way to Halifax, said she was glad the restrictions had eased.
“It’s very freeing being able to get home to family without having to spend those two weeks alone,” she said.
Dunn, who is originally from Cape Breton but now lives in Houston, said she booked her trip to Canada after learning about the planned easing of quarantine rules a few weeks ago.
“My friend let me know that things were being lifted and as soon as we found that out, then we booked my flight so I could get home,” she said.
Denise Saliva, who flew in to Toronto from New Jersey with her husband, had also waited for the rules to ease before booking her trip to Canada.
The couple said they were flying to Western Canada to see their pregnant daughter, who was due to give birth soon.
“(We’re) really relieved,” Saliva said. “We waited since May, because we don’t want to be quarantined.”
Minraj Sekhon, who was travelling to Vancouver, said he had to quarantine after a previous journey during the pandemic and was pleased he no longer needed to do so.
“Feels like things are getting back to normal,” Sekhon said during a stopover in Toronto. “It’s good that they’re implementing different kinds of things rather than forcing everyone to pay and go to a hotel.”
Jeff Watters, a fully vaccinated essential worker, said he was originally set to arrive in Toronto from Guyana on Sunday.
He said he was prepared to quarantine, but a delayed flight meant he was able to take advantage of the new rules.
“I’ve been away for a month. It’s nice to go home,” said Watters.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the easing of the rules mark a “big step,” adding that travel volumes are expected to increase with the change.
“We’re going to ensure that our airports and our travel facilities are able to handle the new surge with careful measures in place,” he told reporters on Monday.
The Canada Border Services Agency has noted that while the quarantine rules for some travellers have changed, eligibility requirements for crossing the border have not.
Mutual travel restrictions between Canada and the United States — which prohibit all discretionary travel between the two countries while continuing to allow the movement of trade, essential workers and international students — are due to expire July 21.
Trudeau said he understands how eager people are to see the border reopen, but noted that the pandemic is still ongoing and “things aren’t normal yet.”
“Nobody wants us to move too fast and have to reimpose restrictions as case numbers rise like we’re seeing elsewhere in the world,” he said. “We need to do this right.
Travellers must use the ArriveCAN app or web portal prior to departure to log their vaccination details, as well as the results of a negative COVID-19 test that’s less than three days old.
The ArriveCAN portal can be accessed either via the Apple or Android app or online via the federal government’s website at canada.ca. Travellers are required to use the latest version of the app, which will be updated when the regulations change.
—Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press