Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated kids ages five to 11 will no longer need a COVID-19 test to enter Canada.
The federal government said on Friday that beginning on April 25 at 12:01 a.m. ET, children in that age group who are accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent, step parent, guardian or tutor will no longer be required to complete a pre-entry COVID-19 test.
However, pre-entry tests will still be required for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers ages 12 and older who are currently eligible to travel to Canada.
Children under five years of age are not required to provide a COVID-19 test result, the government added.
The easement of border rules comes after Ottawa decided to scrap pre-arrival COVID-19 PCR testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers at the end of February.
As part of Friday’s announcement, the government said fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to provide a quarantine plan upon entry.
“This requirement will also be removed for children aged 5-11 who are accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent, step-parent, guardian, or tutor and travellers with a medical contraindication to a COVID-19 vaccine,” the government said in a news release.
In addition, fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada on or after April 25 will no longer be required by the federal government to wear masks in public spaces, monitor and report if they develop signs or symptoms, quarantine if another traveller in the same travel group shows signs or symptoms or tests positive, and maintain a list of close contacts and locations visited.
Those measures were required for 14 days after arriving in Canada, the government said.
However, travellers shouldn’t ditch their masks entirely, said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.
“(If) you’re going to be travelling with a group of people in a certain environment, I think it is prudent to continue to require wearing a mask,” she told reporters during a virtual COVID-19 briefing on Friday.
“It takes the guess work out for the traveller. Everybody’s going to be wearing a mask as an additional layer of protection. It can reduce transmission, (so) why not?”
Furthermore, all travellers are still required to use the ArriveCAN app to upload travel and vaccination information within 72 hours of their arrival to Canada and/or before boarding a plane or cruise ship destined for Canada.
Fully vaccinated travellers who do not submit their information into ArriveCAN won’t be eligible for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption, meaning they may have to submit a pre-entry test result and a quarantine plan, for example.
“All travellers, regardless of vaccination status, must also continue to wear a mask throughout their entire travel journey,” the government said.
“While some federal requirements are being lifted for certain eligible travellers, all travellers entering Canada by air, land or water must adhere to the federal requirements along with those outlined by their province or territory.”
Canada is further easing its border rules at a time where COVID-19 cases are circulating in various parts of the country in a sixth wave.
Driven by Omicron’s BA.2 variant, the sixth wave has seen high spikes of infections over recent weeks, but some areas are suggesting peaks in transmission.
Eighty-one per cent of Canadians are fully vaccinated, according to the government, but higher uptake can result in increased protection with global travel becoming more attractive, said Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer.
“At the end of the day, everyone is in agreement that vaccines are still our major tool, a major layer of protection both inside Canada for all Canadians,” he said.
“But also for travel purposes, it’s important to stress the point that the higher our vaccine coverage is, the better we all are overall in protecting against serious consequences against COVID-19.”