Entry restrictions to Canada ease for vaccinated travelers on February 28

Crossing the Canadian border is about to get easier for fully vaccinated travellers.

Beginning Feb. 28 at 12:01 a.m. ET, vaccinated visitors will be able to enter with a negative rapid antigen test instead of a molecular PCR test. The change comes as the country’s daily COVID-19 cases continue to decline after an omicron-induced spike earlier this year.

Previously, Canada required all travelers 5 years of age and older arriving by land or air to present a negative PCR test taken no later than 72 hours prior to arrival, regardless of their vaccination status.

PCR tests will still be accepted. If a traveler chooses to take a rapid antigen test before departure, it must be authorized by the country in which it was purchased and administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service. The test must also be administered no later than 24 hours before a scheduled flight or land border arrival.

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Canada will also resume the random testing monitoring program in place before the omicron surge. Vaccinated travelers only need to take a post-arrival PCR test if they are randomly selected for this program. They will not need to self-quarantine while awaiting test results.

Travel to Canada: Who is allowed to vi?

A booster shot is not required for entry. Travelers who have completed a series of one or two dose vaccinations, with the last dose administered at least 15 days prior to entry, will be considered fully vaccinated.

Alternatively, travelers can enter the country if they can present proof of previous COVID-19 infection with a positive molecular test taken at least 10 days but no more than 180 days prior to arrival.

Unvaccinated travelers are only allowed entry under certain circumstances; those who can visit will continue to be tested after arrival and must quarantine for 14 days.

“Our fight against the virus is not over”

Canada is also relaxing its travel advice for citizens and now urging citizens to “exercise caution” when traveling abroad instead of discouraging all non-essential travel.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced the rule changes on Tuesday, noting that the country is in a “much better position” than it was in March 2020.

“It’s time to adjust our approach,” he said. “I know many of us are looking forward to facing fewer restrictions. However, we must continue to exercise caution. Let’s be clear: our fight against the virus is not over.”

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The updated travel restrictions come after a week-long ‘Freedom Convoy’ trucker protest in Canada closed the busiest border crossing into the United States, with protesters opposing a mandate requiring drivers entering Canada are fully vaccinated or subject to testing and quarantine requirements.

Duclos noted that if the epidemiological situation continues to improve, hospitalization rates decline and Canadians continue to receive reminders, more travel restrictions could be lifted “in the coming weeks.”

“If the situation justifies it, the test exemption for short journeys – of less than 72 hours for example – could be reinstated,” he said. “Eventually other testing requirements may be removed.”

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.