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It's official: Canada to drop testing requirements for vaccinated travelers on April 1

Unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated travelers will continue to be tested with a molecular test upon arrival to Canada and be required to quarantine for 14 days.

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The U.S. Customs and Border Protection crossing north of Lancaster, Minnesota, is seen Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, the first day nonessential Canadian travelers were allowed to enter the U.S. since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — Starting April 1, vaccinated travelers will no longer be required to complete a pre-entry COVID-19 test when traveling to Canada. Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada's minister of health, announced the changes in a press conference on Thursday, March 17.

At present, vaccinated travelers entering Canada are required to show proof of a negative antigen test taken within a day of crossing the border, or a negative molecular test taken within 72 hours of crossing the border. Prior to Feb. 28, travelers could only show proof of a negative molecular test.

According to Duclos, the changes come with high vaccination rates in Canada, availability of testing and a range of new treatments for patients.

“Of course the government of Canada will also keep monitoring for new areas through our robust surveillance system and adjust public health measures as necessary,” he said.

There are 18 international land border crossings along the 310-mile border between North Dakota and Canada, and only the crossings at Pembina, Dunseith and Portal are operating at full capacity and hours.
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The Canadian government will still conduct random entry testing for travelers, but they will no longer be required to quarantine while waiting for results. Unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated travelers will continue to be tested with a molecular test upon arrival to Canada and will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Travelers will also be required to use the ArriveCAN app when entering the country.

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The news of the change was first reported Wednesday by various Canadian media agencies, which predicted an announcement was soon to come. Duclos made it official Thursday morning.

He was joined at the conference by Omar Alghabra, minister of transport, and Randy Bissonnault, minister of tourism.

Bissonnault said the announcement had been eagerly anticipated by the tourism industry in Canada.

“Canada’s tourism sector is ready to ensure the safety of travelers, employers and the communities in which they operate they are ready to welcome back the world,” he said.

In the U.S., the news is just as welcome. Joe Henry, executive director of Lake of the Woods Tourism, called the move a “step in the right direction” that will make travel easier for people visiting the Northwest Angle.

“The way we’ve kind of looked at it is, for every hurdle there is for people to travel up to the Northwest Angle, you’re going to get fewer and fewer travelers, and every hurdle you take away, the number of travelers that will consider driving up will certainly go up,” he said. “We think this is definitely a hurdle that's being taken away, which is going to help our area.”

While the hurdle of testing will be taken away for travelers, he explained that requiring vaccinations at all is still a hurdle, and he does not expect tourism to bounce back to pre-pandemic numbers as long as that requirement remains in place.

Deanna Newell, owner of Action Parcel in Neche, North Dakota, feels similarly about how changing border measures will affect her business, which serves as a storage warehouse for items that Canadian citizens purchase from the U.S. to avoid international shipping fees or that are not shipped directly to Canada.

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“It’s going to help, but it’s not the end all because until they remove vaccination requirements, it’s still going to be very tough on business,” she said.

But more importantly, Newell says, less strict border measures will begin to allow border families to reunite.

“I always say, business is one thing, but those things cannot be measured.”

Related Topics: U.S.-CANADIAN BORDER
Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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