Toronto Star

Here’s what Canadians will need to do before flying to the United States

Orignally published on 2021-10-26 17:38:00 by www.thestar.com

WASHINGTON—Starting Nov. 8, Canadians and all other foreign travellers entering the U.S. by air will need to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as well as a recent negative test result, according to rules formalized and detailed this week.

Notably, children under 18 will be exempt from the vaccination requirement.

While details about crossings at land borders are still expected to come “in the next couple days,” a senior U.S. administration official told reporters at a background briefing to expect them to mirror the guidelines for air travellers. “We are following the exact same (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) guidelines,” the official said.

One outstanding question is whether the testing requirement will be in place at land border crossings; previously, the White House had said it would not, but in a briefing Tuesday morning, Dr. Cindy Friedman of the CDC did not rule out the possibility.

The new air travel guidance and regulations make official what the Biden administration announced last month.

Canadians booking flights to the U.S. will need to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated in a form provided or recognized by Canadian governments, such as Ontario’s digital vaccine passports. Both paper and digital records will be accepted, according to an administration official. Those booking flights may be asked to upload their vaccination record, and should also bring it with them on the trip. Those records will be checked against travel documents to ensure identity.

And as announced earlier, proof of vaccination with any vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization will be accepted, including the mixed doses that roughly four million Canadians received.

Air travellers will also need to provide proof of a negative test result for COVID-19 taken within three days of their date of travel. Unlike Canada, which requires a PCR or molecular test, the U.S. will accept the less expensive rapid antigen tests.

Children under age two and those who have a documented recovery from COVID-19 within 90 days can be exempt from the testing requirements.

As for vaccinations, there are some notable exemptions as well: primarily, those under 18 will not require proof of vaccination, in recognition of the difficulty children still have in some places of becoming eligible for or receiving vaccines. There is also a narrow range of exemptions on medical grounds — “for those that have severe anaphylactic allergic reactions to a prior COVID vaccine,” an official said — although the official emphasized the narrowness of the exception and said it would only apply to in cases where there was an urgent reason to travel

American citizens and visa holders who are unvaccinated will continued to be allowed to enter the U.S., although they will be required to be tested within one day of their travel. In further guidance that does not apply to Canadians, there is also a vaccination exemption for residents of about 50 countries in which vaccine supply is so low that less than 10 per cent of the population is vaccinated.

An unvaccinated child travelling with fully vaccinated adults can provide proof of a negative test result taken within three days of their departure, while a child travelling with unvaccinated eligible adults must show a test taken within one day — essentially children will be subject to the same testing requirements as the adults they are travelling with.

The U.S. will also impose contact tracing requirements on airlines, allowing U.S. public health officials to followup with travellers who may have been exposed to the virus.

The new requirements and details of the rules come as the U.S. prepares to open its borders to leisure and family travellers for the first time since March 2020. In mid-October, for the first time since the pandemic began, Canada changed its guidance that had urged Canadians not to travel to the U.S. unless there were “urgent” reasons to do so; now the government advises that Canadians heading south should do so only if they are fully vaccinated before their departure, and advises the use of masks and other standard precautions while abroad.

Canadians returning to Canada, as of now, still require proof of a negative PCR or molecular test taken within 72 hours of their re-entry — a complication for many since getting such test results in the time required can be either difficult or expensive. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has said that Canada may consider changing that requirement, but told CBC as recently as Sunday that the current rules would stay in place as the U.S border reopens — meaning Canadians planning upcoming travel will want to plan ahead for meeting the testing requirements upon their return.

With files from The Canadian Press

Orignally published on 2021-10-26 17:38:00 by www.thestar.com

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