Pandemic restrictions on travel between Canada and the U.S. began to loosen Monday for some Canadians, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said plans to totally reopen the border would be announced over the next few weeks.
Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have had a full dose of a coronavirus vaccine approved for use in Canada can skip a 14-day quarantine that has been a requirement since March 2020. Eligible air travelers also no longer have to spend their first three days in the country at a government-approved hotel.
Restrictions barring all non-essential trips between Canada and the United States, including tourism, will remain in place until at least July 21.
Trudeau said the easing of the rules marks a "big step" toward re-opening the border.
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“We’re very hopeful that we’re going to see new steps on reopening announced in the coming weeks,” he said at a news conference in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. “We’re going to make sure that we’re not seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases because nobody wants to go back to further restrictions, after having done so much and sacrificed so much to get to this point.”
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.
Trudeau said he understands how eager people are to see the border reopen but noted that the pandemic continues 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."