Hundreds of Northlanders who own property in Canada, and thousands more who are eager to fish or vacation north of the border, likely celebrated on Monday with news that Canada will allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens to enter the country starting Aug. 9 after being locked out of the country for nearly 17 months.
But don’t just go driving up to the border on that day and expect to get in.
Canada has imposed a stringent list of requirements, beyond vaccination, for anyone who wants to head north of the border, including a negative COVID-19 test result before you leave home.
The News Tribune contacted the Public Health Agency of Canada to get specific requirements for border crossing and, as usual, the devil is in the details:
When does Canada 'open' for vaccinated travelers?
Starting on Aug. 9 at 12:01 a.m., residents of the U.S. who have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days will be permitted to enter Canada for discretionary travel. Entry to Canada will continue to be prohibited for U.S. travelers who are not fully vaccinated. Travelers also must be asymptomatic of any COVID-19 symptoms.
What vaccines are acceptable in Canada?
Those who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines will be allowed to enter Canada.
Documentation: Vaccine card and app or online registration
To be eligible to enter Canada for discretionary travel on the basis of vaccination status, travelers must use the ArriveCAN app or submit information online on the ArriveCAN web portal. Travelers must ensure that mandatory requirements are met prior to leaving home. Travelers must also have a paper or digital copy of their vaccination documentation. The app is free. Or apply at travel-healthdeclaration.com/canada.
You also need a new, negative COVID-19 test result
All travelers, regardless of vaccination status, will still require a pre-entry COVID-19 molecular negative test result obtained within 72 hours of crossing the border. There is no longer mandatory testing once in Canada, but some travelers may be randomly tested upon entry.
Where to get a molecular COVID-19 test
Note: The test must be a molecular or PCR test, NOT an antigen test.
In the Northland, Essentia Health offers molecular, or PCR testing, at 42 of its sites. The traditional test offers results back to the patient usually within 24 to 72 hours, depending on the location of the test (all results are done in labs in Duluth and Fargo). In cases where faster results are needed, most Essentia clinics also offer an instant or rapid test option. In both cases insurance companies are billed but, if not covered, there is no charge to the patient. You can sign up for a COVID-19 test through Essentia’s My Chart system or by calling your local provider.
St. Luke’s offers saliva kits that are sent to Vault. If the tests are collected and sent Monday-Thursday, patients will get results back within 48 hours. Patients purchase those kits from St. Luke’s and do not need an order from a doctor. Patients get the result emailed to them directly from Vault. With a doctor's order, St. Luke's also will do a routine PCR tests, which will offer results within 48 hours. Testing is offered Monday-Saturday.
Walgreens is offering free, contactless COVID-19 testing for patients age 3 and up at select locations. Walgreens also offers a rapid diagnostic test with faster results. Go to walgreens.com/findcare/covid19/testing to pick a site and type of test you want.
For other COVID-19 testing options in Minnesota go to mn.gov/covid19/get-tested/testing-locations.
No mandatory quarantine in Canada
Fully vaccinated travelers who meet the requirements will be exempt from the 14-day quarantine. However, all travelers 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.
Can children cross the US-Canada border if they are not vaccinated?
Everyone age 13 and older is required to be fully vaccinated to enter Canada. However, unvaccinated children 12 and under are allowed to cross the border if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian who is vaccinated.
Don’t forget your passport
Requirements for all people entering Canada (and to re-enter the U.S.) to have a valid passport or an enhanced driver's license are still in place.
Don’t fake your vaccination card
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, a person who submits false information on vaccination status could be liable to a fine of up to $750,000 or six months imprisonment or both, under the Quarantine Act, or prosecution under the Criminal Code for forgery. Violating any quarantine or isolation instructions provided to travelers by a screening officer or quarantine officer when entering Canada is also an offense under the Quarantine Act and could lead to a $5,000 fine for each day of non-compliance or for each offense committed, or more serious penalties, including six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.
Non-compliant air travelers may also be subject to fines of up to $5,000 for each offense committed under the Aeronautics Act.