Mandatory hotel quarantines will be lifted for fully vaccinated incoming Canadian travellers as early as next month, officials announced Wednesday as Covid-19 cases have started trending down.
The stays of up to three days at government-listed hotels were ordered for arriving airline passengers at their own expense in February to slow the introduction of variants, amid an uptick in Canadians taking foreign vacations despite warnings against non-essential trips.
With a rollout of Covid vaccines now quickening, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said border restrictions would soon be phased out.
"What is currently being considered as the first step in this approach is to allow fully vaccinated individuals currently permitted to enter Canada to do so without the requirement to stay in government-authorized accommodations," Hajdu told a news conference.
"Travellers would have to be fully vaccinated 14 days or more prior to their arrival," she said, adding this was expected to take effect in "early July."
Canadian citizens, permanent residents, international students and essential workers would still require proof of a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test in order to enter Canada, and be tested again for Covid-19 upon arrival, as well as isolate at home while awaiting those results.
For now, Canada's airspace and borders will remain closed to most others, including tourists.
Canada recorded 600 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, down from a daily high of more than 10,000 cases in April, when public health officials ordered lockdowns in several regions, bringing its total to 1.4 million cases, including almost 26,000 deaths.
As of Wednesday, nearly 24 million Canadians or 63 percent of the population had received at least one vaccine dose, but just three million have been fully vaccinated, according to the Covid-19 tracker website.