More than 15 months after Canada closed its borders in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19, the country will begin easing restrictions from early July.
On Monday, the government announced that fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents will be exempt from the mandatory 14-day quarantine as of July 5 at 11.59pm.
This means fully vaccinated Canadian travellers arriving by air will no longer be required to quarantine in a hotel, a move some have criticised as being expensive and unnecessary.
“This is the first phase of our precautionary approach to easing Canada’s border measures,” said Dominic LeBlanc, president of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and minister of intergovernmental affairs.
The move is part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plan to reopen the border in phases.
Last week, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced that the US and Canada were extending the border closure until July 21.
The extension came despite pressure from US and Canadian border cities to reopen.
“Our phased approach to easing border measures is guided by facts, scientific evidence and the advice of our public health experts,” Mr Blair said.
“In all that we’re doing in response to this pandemic, our top priority continues to be the health, safety and security of all Canadians.”
The pandemic has caused Canada to enact some of the strictest border restrictions in the world.
In February, the federal government introduced a mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers arriving by air, requiring them to pay for their own three-day stay at government-approved hotels until they received the results of their on-arrival Covid-19 tests. They were then required to quarantine at home for another 11 days.
Those arriving by land must follow home quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
All travellers will still be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel and undergo an additional test on arrival.
Vaccinated travellers claiming quarantine exemption will need to have received at least the first dose of any of the four shots approved by Canada – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson.
Those entering the country will also need to use the ArriveCAN application to authenticate their vaccination status.
A ban on flights from India has been extended by another 30 days, but a similar restriction on flights from Pakistan has not been renewed.
Mr Trudeau has said he will not reopen the borders completely until 75 per cent of Canadians are vaccinated.
About 67 per cent of Canadians have received their first dose, but fewer than 20 per cent are fully vaccinated.