The border crossing between the U.S. and Canada in Houlton. Credit: Alexander MacDougall / Houlton Pioneer Times

Beginning Nov. 30, Canada will no longer require vaccinated Canadians to provide a negative COVID-19 test to re-enter the country within 72 hours of leaving.

That means that vaccinated Canadians wishing to make the trip across the U.S. border for weekend shopping trips or to see family will no longer incur the hassle or have to pay up to $200 to receive a molecular test.

News of the change was announced Friday, Nov. 19, in a release by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“COVID-19 testing and vaccine requirements, as well as other border measures, are an important part of Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and serve to protect the health and safety of all Canadians,” the release stated. “With vaccination rates increasing around the world, and an evolving epidemiological situation, it is important that Canada’s border measures reflect the current global context.”

The exemption of a pre-entry molecular test is only for fully vaccinated Canadians or permanent residents who leave Canada by land or air and return within 72 hours, the release states. It also extends to any accompanying children under the age 12, who are not yet able to be vaccinated, and to other individuals who have medical reasons for why they cannot be vaccinated.

Canada also announced that on Nov. 30 it is expanding its list of accepted vaccines to include the Sinopharm, Sinovac and COVAXIN vaccines, matching the list approved by the World Health Organization.

“Health and safety will always remain at the forefront of any decision our government makes in the fight against COVID-19,” Canadian Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said in the release. “The upcoming changes to Canada’s border testing and entry requirements reflect the next stage in our government’s approach as we align with the improving vaccination rates both here in Canada and around the world.

“The situation at our borders remains closely monitored, with officials and experts continuing their work to evaluate the measures in place and recommend necessary adjustments as required.”

Story by David Rasbach, The Bellingham Herald