After two years of pandemic life, you might be itching to get away, and spring break might be the time to do it.
With data showing the Omicron-fuelled wave is receding, Canada and many other countries have begun loosening travel restrictions.
Starting Feb. 28, the federal government has eased border requirements. If you’re thinking of hopping on a plane or going on a road trip with your kids this spring break, here’s what you need to know.
Do we need to be vaccinated to travel?
Yes, anyone who is older than 12 years and four months need to be fully vaccinated to board any domestic or international flights, train or ship. The four months is an exemption period following a child’s 12th birthday to allow them time to get the shot.
If you’re travelling within Canada, you don’t have to worry about COVID testing or other requirements but you do need to be fully vaccinated to board a plane at any Canadian airport. But if you’re travelling to the United States or internationally, check your destination country for their entry testing and vaccination requirements.
For kids: Unvaccinated kids younger than 12 years and four months are not required to be vaccinated or tested before boarding a domestic or international flight, ferry or train.
We want to fly to the U.S. What do we need?
The U.S. requires non-U. S. citizen travellers flying by air to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination before travelling to the U.S. Everyone two and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within one day of travel before entering the country. A viral test could be a NAAT or antigen test.
Vancouver International Airport provides a list of private testing facilities near the airport here.
For kids: Children under 18 do not have to be fully vaccinated and will not be required to provide proof of vaccination status. They’ll still be required to take a COVID test to enter.
What if we’re going to drive down to the U.S.?
The same vaccination requirements apply: Adults have to be fully vaccinated to travel down to the U.S. Unlike air travellers, however, people crossing by a land border into the U.S. don’t need proof of a negative test.
For kids: Children under 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement. No COVID test required.
Do we need to get tested and quarantine when we come back?
Yes, anyone age five and up must show a negative COVID-19 test as part of the pre-entry requirements upon returning to Canada, but starting Feb. 28 travellers returning to Canada no longer need to get a pricey molecular test. Instead, they can submit a rapid antigen test taken the day before entering the country.
Note that the antigen test must be one authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, health care entity or telehealth service. Take-home rapid antigen tests are not adequate.
That doesn’t mean everyone skips a molecular test altogether. There will be random arrival testing for travellers arriving to Canada, but they will no longer be required to quarantine while awaiting their test results.
If you had COVID-19 but no longer have symptoms, you can also use your previous positive test to satisfy the pre-entry test requirement. Your test must be from at least 10 days and no more than 180 days before your return.
For kids: Starting Feb. 28, children under 12 travelling with fully vaccinated adults don’t have to quarantine and can resume their normal activities. They can go back to day care, camp, school, go into a crowded bus, visit elderly relatives — all without the 14-day ban currently in place.
What about going for a day trip down to the U.S.?
Unlike that brief period in December before Omicron hit, no exemptions are in place for shorter trips across the border. The federal government said it will monitor the situation and could drop testing requirements for short trips less than 72 hours abroad if the pandemic situation continues to improve.
Do you have other questions about travelling with kids during spring break? Email us at [email protected]
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