OTTAWA, July 19 (Xinhua) -- The Canadian government announced Monday that it will allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into Canada starting Aug. 9, joined by others of the world on Sept. 7.
"This preliminary step allows for the Government of Canada to fully operationalize the adjusted border measures ahead of September 7, 2021, and recognizes the many close ties between Canadians and Americans," the government said in a press release.
The Canada-U.S. border was shut down to non-essential travel by mutual agreement on March 21, 2020 and the restrictions have been renewed each month since.
The latest announcement came two weeks after the Canada Border Services Agency began waiving quarantine rules for fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents. It remained unclear Monday if or when the U.S. administration plans to reciprocate for visitors to the United States.
The announcement also came amid a pressure campaign mounted by the business community and lawmakers on either side of the Canada-U.S. border who say the prolonged measures will have long-term devastating impacts on local economies.
Children under 12 who are accompanied by fully vaccinated and eligible family members will also be exempt from quarantine, provided they wear a mask in public places and avoid indoor group settings.
All travellers will still be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test result and proof of vaccination prior to arrival by way of the ArriveCAN smartphone app or web portal, but post-travel test results will no longer be necessary.
Canada Border Services Agency will also be subjecting random travellers to a mandatory molecular test upon arrival.
"This strategy allows the government of Canada to continue monitoring variants of concern in Canada and vaccine effectiveness," the release said. "Using these layers of protection, the government of Canada can monitor the COVID-19 situation in Canada, respond quickly to threats and guide decisions on restricting international travel."
As of Aug. 9, airports in Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton will also be added to the list of Canadian cities where international flights are permitted to land. Air travellers will no longer be required to spend the first three nights of their quarantine at a government-approved hotel.
"However, all travellers must still provide a quarantine plan and be prepared to quarantine, in case it is determined at the border that they do not meet the necessary requirements," said the release.
Meanwhile, the ban on all commercial and private flights from India - imposed on April 22 - will be extended due to the reportedly high rates of the Delta variant.