Ontario and British Columbia are the latest Canadian provinces to mandate vaccine passports as a condition of entry to restaurants, entertainment and leisure venues. It comes a week after Canada opened to fully vaccinated international travelers as it further relaxed its COVID-19 border rules.
Now the doors are open, tourists are gradually returning to explore Canada's cities, national parks, mountains, islands and forests after months of shutdowns. But across the country, public health policies are returning as provinces see an uptick in COVID-19 cases. So before you dig out your passport and jump online to book flights, here are some things to consider while planning a trip there.
Traveling to Canada? Here's what you need
The main requirement to enter Canada is for travelers to be fully vaccinated. Canada currently accepts the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines from visitors. Those who are vaccinated can travel safely two weeks after their final dose, or two weeks after their one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Travelers will also be required to present a negative COVID-19 result from a test taken within 72 hours of their departure—regardless of their vaccination status—and must present the results before boarding their flight. They're also asked to provide their proof of vaccination, test results and contact information through the ArriveCAN mobile app, a web-based form or a paper form, within three days of departure, and some may be randomly selected to a screening at the border to assess their potential risk to public health.
If your proof of vaccination is in a language other than English or French, you must obtain a certified translation into English or French and upload this certified translation in place of the original document.
Can unvaccinated children visit Canada?
Fully vaccinated parents or guardians will be allowed to bring unvaccinated children under 12 years of age to Canada, but those children will still be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival.
Read more: Do I need a visa to visit Canada?
Will I have to quarantine when I arrive in Canada?
No, fully vaccinated travelers won’t need to quarantine upon their arrival. However, the government advised visitors to have a two-week quarantine plan in place in case officials determine they don’t meet all of Canada’s pandemic border requirements.
Read more: Why do I need to have a "suitable quarantine plan" to travel to Canada?
Current COVID-19 rules in Canada
Province entry rules
Lockdowns began to lift in late spring, but with the Delta variant circulating widely some public health measures are in place and generally vary between provinces and territories, so check the government’s resource page for destination-specific information. Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, require visitors to fill in an additional travel form before their trip, as does Nova Scotia (see here). Also, it's important to be aware that some Indigenous communities are not accepting visitors at this time.
Read more: 15 best places to visit in Canada
Hotels have reopened with enhanced cleaning protocols, and in some regions restaurants and bars are also welcoming guests for both outdoor and indoor service, though some have strict entry rules in place. In Québec and Manitoba, for instance, customers must show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, gyms, concerts, sporting events and movie theaters.
In British Columbia, people must be at least partially vaccinated (one dose) to enter restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gyms, and any indoor ticketed sporting event or concert with more than 50 people. That rule came into effect on September 13 and by October 24 the rules will be tightened again and you will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses) to enter the same venues.
From September 22, proof of vaccination will be required to enter similar venues in Ontario. Those eligible for a vaccine certificate must have both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, which will allow them to dine and drink indoors and visit sporting events, cinemas and theaters.
Businesses in Edmonton are requiring patrons show proof of vaccination before entering their premises but the Alberta government has so far refused to implement a province-wide mandate. Gyms, restaurants, theatres, and clubs are among the businesses in the city introducing vaccine passports, according to CBC.
Children under 12 are generally exempt from vaccine passport rules. International tourists are permitted to show the proof of vaccination they used to enter Canada at venues where vaccine passports are required, along with their passports as a form of ID.
By the end of October, proof of vaccination will be required from passengers to board any domestic flight, interprovincial train or cruise ship.
Some provinces have reinstated mask mandates including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Québec. Saskatchewan has dropped its mask mandate, and even though masks are not required in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, they're still encouraged. So it's a good idea to pack a mask regardless of where you're traveling to in Canada as you'll need it for your flight, and rules may change suddenly so that it may be required on public transport and in some public spaces anyway.
Cultural spaces like museums and theaters in some provinces are limiting the number of people allowed at a time, installing physical barriers, and increasing their ventilation systems, among other preventative measures. Always plan ahead before visiting as you may need to book tickets in advance to gain entry.
If you're after Canada's famous outdoor adventure activities and extreme sports, you'll be happy to know that most of the major parks are open but be aware that access to some visitor sites may be limited. According to Parks Canada, "only those places where measures can be implemented to minimize health and safety risks will be open to the public. Changes to services or even closures may happen quickly as the situation with COVID-19 changes." Plan your visit and check the latest updates for your destination here.
Niagara Falls is open for viewing in Queen Victoria Park and most attractions in the area are open, as well as shuttles, restaurants and accommodation. Most hiking and cycling trails in Banff National Park are open for day use and many of the park’s campgrounds are accepting guests.
Skiing and snowboarding season is likely to be impacted by COVID-19 variants but we'll update this article as we know more. In the meantime, always plan ahead and check the latest public health advice in Canada as rules vary and can change with little notice.
This article was first published in August 2020 and updated on September 15, 2021.
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