(CN) — Over one year after closing its borders to non-essential travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Canadian government announced Monday the country will be reopening to vaccinated tourists beginning with U.S. citizens and permanent residents on Aug. 9, and then to everyone else on Sept. 7.
Officials cited the hard work of Canadians in getting the pandemic under control, rising vaccination rates and declining Covid-19 cases as reasons for its reopening plans. They plan to use the window between when Americans and the rest of the world are cleared to enter to adjust border control measures and make sure they’re ready for an expected influx of passengers.
Sen. Steve Daines said the August date is too far away.
“It’s time to reopen the border between Montana and Canada, and it’s time to do it now, not weeks from now. Doing so is essential for Montana families, agriculture, jobs and tourism,” Daines said. “President Biden allowing the northern border to remain closed while opening the southern border to illegal immigrants and drugs is beyond hypocritical and frustrating for Montanans.”
Tester said trade with Canada represents a major portion of Montana’s economy. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, Montana exported $692 million in goods to Canada in 2018, representing 42 percent of the state’s total goods exports.
Like Daines, he too wants the border open, but made notice of public safety.
“Trade and travel across the U.S. – Canadian border is critical for Montana families and for our economy, and this important milestone puts us one step closer to our economy returning to normal,” Tester said. “I’ve pushed both the Biden administration and Canadian officials to find a way to reinstate nonessential crossings as quickly and safely as possible, and I look forward to the boost Montana’s economy will receive once travel resumes on both sides of the border.”
Interested travelers will need to have received a government-approved vaccine at least 14 days before entering the country — that means Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson. Visitors won’t be forced to quarantine, but they will have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result before stepping on Canadian soil.
Officials will also be randomly selecting individuals to take a post-arrival test, but that won’t apply to the vast majority of travelers.
“Canadians’ safety and security always come first. With rising vaccination rates and fewer cases in Canada, we can begin to safely ease border measures,” said Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Health, in a related statement. “A gradual approach to reopening will allow our health authorities to monitor the COVID-19 situation here and abroad. Canadians have worked hard and sacrificed for each other, and because of that work, we can take these next steps safely.”
Effective Aug. 9, 2021 international passenger flights will also be allowed to land at the following airports: Halifax Stanfield, Québec City Jean Lesage, Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier, Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson and Edmonton international airports. These airports have already begun implementing increased safety measures to welcome visitors.
“The easing of Canada’s border measures is welcome news for tourism businesses across the country, the thousands of Canadians employed by the sector and the communities who rely on it,” said Melanie Joly, Canada’s Minister of Economic Development, in a related statement.
“It has been a challenging year as we balance the need to protect both the health of Canadians and our economy but tourism businesses have demonstrated incredible resilience. Our government has been proud to be by their side since the beginning of this crisis and we will continue to be there as they prepare to begin to welcome vaccinated travellers from around the world to our beautiful shores.”
The Canadian government did include one important caveat in its announcement — if the situation changes and the domestic epidemiological situation declines, due to something like the delta variant spreading among vaccinated populations, these reopening plans could still be put on hold.