Travelers told to expect delays at Pearson as border reopens to fully vaccinated Americans
Travelers are told to expect delays at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport after Canada’s border reopens to U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated permanent residents on Monday.
Robin Smith, spokesperson for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, said in a statement to CBC News on Sunday that travelers should be patient before heading to the airport as easing restrictions could mean more people at Pearson.
âWith the border reopening for non-essential travel by US citizens and fully vaccinated permanent residents on August 9, we anticipate an increase in interest in air travel,â Smith said in the statement.
âThe Greater Toronto Airports Authority is working closely with airlines and government agencies to find all efficiencies possible, but it may take longer to get through the airport due to additional health checks for COVID-19 . “
Starting at midnight Sunday evening, non-essential American travelers who have received a full course of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine will be re-allowed on Canadian soil.
To be eligible, travelers must live in the United States, have passed at least 14 days since their last dose, and show evidence of a negative molecular test for COVID-19 less than 72 hours old.
The ArriveCAN app is an essential part of border crossing
They should also use the ArriveCAN app or the online web portal to download their vaccination details.
Passengers scheduled to depart on domestic flights from Pearson are asked to arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes prior to their flight time.
Passengers scheduled to depart on international flights at Pearson are asked to arrive at least three hours in advance.
Smith said arriving international passengers should be prepared to wait three hours or more to complete the arrival process due to COVID-19 screening requirements, depending on their situation.
âThe entire airport community is working together to ensure that the health and safety of passengers and employees remain the top priority,â said Smith.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s senior director of international policy, Mark Agnew, calls the reopening of the border a “welcome first step,” but says most of the summer travel season is already over.
No ‘visitor tsunami’ yet
Agnew says the House is concerned about entry delays as people go to search their cell phones for proof of vaccination while searching for other documents.
âYou might have people fiddling around, trying to load it on the spot,â he said. “You don’t want to see these delays that people are going through because it’s going to create a backlog for everyone who wants to enter the country.”
He also says there are still a number of requirements that must be met before Americans are allowed in. This includes proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken before arriving at the port of entry and a back-up quarantine plan just in case.
âIt won’t be sort of a quick 25 seconds for travelers in any way,â Agnew said.
Noting that other foreign nationals will not be allowed to enter until September, he said it was a “gradual step in the right direction”, but that there was still a long way to go before the business did not continue as usual.
Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati hopes the reopening of the border can boost the city’s tourism industry, which he says is “right up there with oxygen in terms of importance.”
U.S. citizens make up 25% of the tourists the city receives each year, Diodati said. Without their visits, it has been “a devastating effect on top of an already terribly devastating tourist season”.
He also believes that most visitors for now will be Americans who own property in Canada or have relatives there.
“I am not yet expecting a tsunami of visitors to our borders,” Diodati said.