Last month, the federal government amended pandemic-era travel rules to allow fully-vaccinated Canadians re-entry into the country within 72 hours of departure without the need for a negative PCR test — a decision that came as a relief to many who like to make day trips across the U.S. border.
However, CTV News reports the change has actually caused more trouble than relief in practice, with a number of full-vaccinated Canadians having been slapped with mandatory 14-day quarantine orders upon re-entry.
Even though the government has made it so travellers don’t have to provide a negative PCR test if they’re re-entering the country within 72 hours, they still have to submit mandatory information, including proof of vaccination, date of travel, and quarantine plan in the ArriveCAN app and present their ArriveCAN receipt to Canadian Border Services upon arrival.
It looks like the federal government hasn’t done the best job of informing Canadians of that little distinction, since many seem to be unaware of it.
“It feels like I’m being punished for not being able to navigate the ArriveCAN app,” Martin Turo, a resident of Surrey, B.C., told CTV News on Friday.
Turo is currently serving a 14-day quarantine order at home after returning from a 30-minute trip down to Blaine, Washington, on Thursday. The 70-year-old, who admits he is not tech-savvy, managed to register his trip on the ArriveCAN app but could not figure out how to upload his vaccine details.
“I brought that vaccine passport with me and [the border guard] didn’t even want to look at it,” said Turo.
An incredibly short trip across the border to pick up a package landed Turo in a two-week quarantine, despite him having two COVID-19 vaccinations and a booster shot.
Similarly, Rick Minchin and his wife went down to Blaine for four hours Tuesday, before heading back to New Westminster, B.C., through the Pacific Highway border crossing. Unaware of the ArriveCAN app requirements, the couple were given quarantine orders by the border official they spoke with.
The travel rules were changed to better facilitate Canadians and make their lives easier, but that’s not what they’re doing right now. It’s clear that the authorities need to do a better job at not only the regulations they put in place but also teaching Canadians how to follow them.
If you’re fully vaccinated and plan on taking a short trip across the border, here’s a short checklist to help make sure you don’t get slapped with a quarantine order on your way back:
- Download the ArriveCAN app from the App Store (requires iOS 12.0 or later) or the Google Play Store (requires Android 6.0 or later).
- Log in to the app.
- Submit mandatory information, including proof of vaccination, date of travel, and quarantine plan. This step must be completed before you reach the Canadian border on your way back. The app will furnish an ArriveCAN receipt once you have done so.
- Upon arrival at the Canadian border, present the ArriveCAN receipt to your Canadian Border Services officer, either on an electronic device or in printed form.