After over a year of lockdown, vaccinated Australian travelers may now pack their bags to Canada.
The Great North finally opened its borders to most foreign visitors, including Australians, on September 7th, 2021. Canada initially opened its borders in August, but to US citizens only.
Even though the country is ready to welcome tourists, all international travelers must comply with Canada’s COVID-19 entry restrictions. In addition, the government has introduced several steps to follow before they grant entry.
Besides having a vaccine certificate, nationals from Australia need to apply for the Canada eTA for Australian citizens before heading to the North American nation.
Canada is going to let most vaccinated passengers skip the 14-day quarantine, too. But, to make sure visitors avoid self-isolation, they need to provide additional proof, beyond the vaccination certificate.
But, is it safe to visit Canada right now?
Provided that the country only allowed essential travel to its territory since the pandemic broke out at the beginning of 2020,Canada’s change in travel restrictions is enormous.
Even though Canada is facing its fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, the majority of hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated.
Canada has had about 1.59 million cases and 27,500 deaths at the time of writing. A sharp contrast with its neighboring country, the United States, which has had an approximate number of 42.4 million cases and about 680 thousand deaths.
Therefore, traveling to Canada can be safe if travelers follow recommendations and meet the entry requirements.
According to Denis Vinette, vice-president of Canada’s Border Services Agency (CBSA) COVID-19 border task force, “Vaccinated travelers ... represent a much, much lesser risk of carrying and importing cases of COVID into the country [than unvaccinated travelers], and the data demonstrates that”.
However, Dr Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer, said that the country could see up to 15,000 cases per day if public health measures were not introduced. Therefore, Tam noted that testing travelers upon arrival is part of a safety protocol to protect its citizens further.
Foreign visitors are expected to take a COVID-19 test before entering the country as a way of guaranteeing that Canadian nationals and residents, and visitors included, are not exposed to unnecessary risk.
Rules for Australians traveling to Canada
Australians who want to visit Canada must have been vaccinated with one of the Health Canada-approved Covid-19 vaccines at least 14 days before arriving in the country. It is important to note that they need to have received both doses of the vaccine.
Canada only recognizes the following vaccines:
- Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty (tozinameran, BNT162b2)
- Moderna Spikevax (mRNA-1273)
- AstraZeneca Vaxzevria/COVISHIELD (ChAdOx1-S, AZD1222)
- Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (Ad26.COV2.S)
While the World Health Organization has approved the use of Sinopharm and Sinovac, Canada and several EU countries do not recognize these vaccines. Nevertheless, this should not be an issue for nationals or residents of Australia as they have been administering the same vaccines except for the Janssen vaccine.
Furthermore, within 72 hours before arriving in Canadian territory, Australian travelers must submit their travel details through the ArriveCAN app or register online through the Canadian government website.
Australians, and all other travelers for that matter, should upload their vaccination documents on the app or the government website.
The vaccination certificate must be in English or French.
If entering Canada by land, travelers need to make sure they take a COVID-19 molecular test at most, 72 hours before the expected arrival time.
Especial Rules For Children Under 12
Children under 12 can enter Canada without vaccination, and they may skip quarantine. However, the country has introduced strict rules for children, and families are expected to follow them.
Rules for children include:
- Limiting contact with others, especially people that have an underlying medical condition or have a compromised immune system or is older than 65
- Children should be with their vaccinated parent or guardian as much as possible
- Children must wear masks, especially in public places and closed environments
Children are expected to take COVID-19 tests as instructed by Canadian authorities.
The Canadian government demands that parents or guardians monitor their children’s health frequently. Additionally, parents must keep a list of the people their children come into contact with during the 14-day period after arriving in Canada. Besides their names, it’s essential to log their contact details in case the child is asymptomatic and tests positive for coronavirus.
Additionally, minors should avoid large gatherings, and should not attend sporting events, concerts, camps, amusement parks, etc. In conclusion, during the first 14 days in Canada it is expected that children have minimal contact with others, even though quarantine is not mandatory.
If travelers do not follow the rules, they will face fines and possibly charges, CBSAS’ Vinette said.
Are Australian travelers ready to travel abroad?
Like Canada, Australia took extra precautions to keep its population safe. It closed its borders to most foreign nationals. Only essential travel was made available to specific eligible travelers.
Current data shows that Australia has already provided 25.1 million doses of the vaccine and that 9.85 million Australians are fully vaccinated. Nearly 50% of the population aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated and ready to travel abroad.
Australia has several entry regulations in place to ensure that exposure to COVID-19 is minimal. Therefore, Australians planning a trip to Canada should also read the entry requirements their country has introduced when they return.
Australia has always had strict border measures, and these have become stricter due to the pandemic. Anyone traveling back should have all the necessary documents and COVID-19 entry requirements upon arrival.