Canada has been easing COVID restrictions during the past few days, making it easier for vaccinated travelers to visit
As of March 1, Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine passport requirement has been lifted, and people no longer need to show proof of vaccination before entering indoor establishments. The capacity limit for bars, restaurants, and other establishments has also been discarded.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, announced on Thursday—March 3— that the mask mandate will be removed by the end of March if public health trends continue, despite signs of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.
Dr. Moore explained that Health authorities understand that the new Omicron variant is more contagious, and is expected to continue to spread, and even dominate by mid-March. However, they do not forecast a spike in hospitalizations.
“The removal of masks, I’m sure, will make some feel ill at ease, but also will allow others the freedom to not wear – who may have already had COVID and/or have had their second doses, third doses, and feel confident that they will not require hospitalization if they get ill,” explained Dr. Moore.
The province’s top doctor warned that vulnerable people should still wear masks despite the removal of the mask mandate, and remains positive about the future: “I do believe the highest risk is behind us.”
What About Other Provinces In Canada?
Travelers must bear in mind that Ontario’s new rules do not apply to all provinces in Canada, and must stay up to date with the different restrictions per territory.
The province of Saskatchewan removed the vaccine passport on February 14, and on February 28 became the first province to remove all COVID restrictions: masks are not mandatory and even those who tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to be isolated.
As of March 1, Alberta’s government removed almost all pandemic measures and is on Step 2 of its reopening plan. During this stage, masks are not required —except for specific establishments like courts and care settings—, and the capacity limit mandate has also been removed. This province was the first to remove the vaccine passport mandate on February 9.
Covid restrictions are still strict in the province of Quebec, but starting on March 14 vaccine passports will not be required.
Most provinces across Canada have announced that the mask mandate will be soon removed, but it still rules in Quebec and British Columbia—where the vaccine card is yet required.
Also Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut provinces authorities announced that they are willing to remove the mask and the vaccine mandates in the following days.
In Manitoba, masks, and proof of vaccination are no longer mandatory, but businesses can still require them.
What You Must Know Before Traveling to Canada
According to the new travel rules, as of March 1, the PCR test and quarantine are no longer mandatory for vaccinated travelers. However, a rapid antigen test is still required and some travelers might have to take a PCR test at the airport if chosen for control.
The antigen test must be taken no more than one day before flight or arrival at the border and must be a lab test, take-home tests will not be accepted. If the test is positive, travelers must wait 10 days before entering Canada, otherwise, they might be fined.
Those who recently had COVID-19 may be exempt from pre-arrival tests if they can provide proof of a molecular test taken at least 10 days before entering the country.
Despite still having to take a rapid test, it is now easier —and less expensive— for travelers from the United States and Canada to meet, especially after Canada also lifted the advisory against non-essential international travel.
More families are reuniting and driving to cross borders through popular crossings like Buffalo and Detroit, and more vaccinated Canadians are traveling abroad.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories