Advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada is catching up with a growing trend among some Canadians.
And it could open a floodgate of cross-border traffic for many more looking to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Reports this week confirm that federal government regulations do permit Canadian residents to leave the country for the purposes of getting a vaccine without having to undergo quarantine restrictions – as long as certain conditions are met.
“Essential medical services” obtained abroad are exempt under Canada’s quarantine regulations. And the PHAC has now confirmed a COVID-19 vaccination is considered essential.
To meet the conditions to avoid quarantine on returning to the country, according to reports, Canadians must:
- Have a note from a Canadian health-care provider that the vaccine is necessary; and
- Written proof from the licensed American provider; and
- Travel in a private vehicle – with a “support person” permitted.
Those conditions for quarantine exemption limit vaccine tourism to trips by car. And ‘vaccine tourists’ may NOT deviate from their medically-necessitated route. No shopping detours, for example.
The news comes after reports of Canadians already driving across cross the border for their shots this month. “Albertans line up as Montana tribe gifts surplus COVID-19 vaccines to Canadian neighbours,” reads one such GlobalNews headline from 05MAY.
In addition to heading to U.S. border towns with surplus supplies, the confirmation may motivate some Canadians to drive all the way to the Big Apple, where Mayor Bill de Blasio said 06MAY that NYC will start offering vaccines to tourists via mobile vaccine sites at major tourist destinations.
But it would seem to rule out – or make it much harder – for Canadians to access vaccine programs for travellers in more distant American destinations like Alaska, where Governor Mike Dunleavy announced in APR that, “COVID-19 vaccines would be made available at key airports in the state starting June 1,” as part of plans to bolster Alaska’s shattered tourist industry,” according to reports.
And it definitely rules out making an exotic vacation of getting vaccinated in places like the Maldives and Thailand that also have vaccine tourism – unless you’re prepared to quarantine once you’re home.
Canadians are also warned the quarantine exemption is no blank cheque to cross the border. “The onus is on the traveller to clearly demonstrate they meet,” exemption conditions, the public health agency said, adding that American border agents have complete discretion about who they let into the U.S., and CBS agents similarly make the “final decision on a quarantine exemption.”
On their return to Canada, vaccine tourists who don’t need to quarantine must still, “wear a mask in public spaces at all times and keep a list of close contacts and places visited for 14 days.”