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Canada changes COVID-19 border rules for unvaccinated, partially vaccinated kids

Children aged five to eleven who are unvaccinated or inadequately vaccinated will no longer require a COVID-19 test to enter Canada.

Beginning April 25 at 1 a.m. ET, children in that age group who are accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent, stepparent, guardian, or tutor will no longer be required to complete a pre-entry COVID-19 test, according to the federal government.

Pre-entry testing will be required for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated tourists aged 12 and above who are currently eligible to visit Canada.

The government also stated that children under the age of five are not needed to present a COVID-19 test result.

The loosening of border procedures follows Ottawa’s decision at the end of February to eliminate pre-arrival COVID-19 PCR testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers.

Fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be needed to produce a quarantine plan upon admission, according to the government’s declaration on Friday.

“This need will also be waived for children aged 5-11 who are accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent, step-parent, guardian, or tutor, as well as travellers who have a medical contraindication to the COVID-19 vaccination,” the government stated in a statement.

Furthermore, 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 exhibits signs or symptoms or tests positive, or keep a list of close contacts and places visited.

According to the government, these steps were required for 14 days after arrival in Canada.

Travelers should not, however, abandon their masks totally, according to Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s senior public health officer.

“I think it’s prudent to continue to require wearing a mask if you’re going to be travelling with a group of people in a given area,” she told reporters at a virtual COVID-19 briefing on Friday.

“It eliminates the traveller’s guesswork. As an added layer of safety, everyone will be wearing a mask. Why not? It has the potential to reduce transmission.”

Additionally, all travellers must use the ArriveCAN app to enter travel and immunisation information within 72 hours of arriving in Canada and/or before boarding a plane or cruise ship bound for the country.

Fully vaccinated travellers who do not enter their information into ArriveCAN will not be eligible for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption, which may require them to submit a pre-entry test result and a quarantine plan, among other things.

“All travellers, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask for the duration of their journey,” the administration stated.

“While some federal restrictions are being waived for select eligible travellers, all travellers entering Canada by air, land, or water must comply with both federal and provincial or territorial standards.”

At a time when a sixth wave of COVID-19 cases is sweeping around the country, Canada is relaxing its border controls even more.

The sixth wave, which is driven by Omicron’s BA.2 variation, has seen large surges in infections in recent weeks, but certain places are showing signs of transmission peaks.

According to the government, 81% of Canadians are completely vaccinated, but more uptake could result in increased protection as worldwide travel becomes more appealing, according to Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer.

“At the end of the day, everyone agrees that vaccines are still our primary tool, a critical layer of protection for all Canadians,” he said.

“However, it’s equally vital to emphasise that the higher our vaccine coverage is, the better we all are at protecting ourselves against serious COVID-19 repercussions.”

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