By Vanni Gibertini
Canada Suspends Vaccination Mandate For Air Passengers
As the travel industry attempts to return to a semblance of normality after months of restrictions due to the COVID pandemic, each country tried to find its own way to deal with the situation balancing the need to protect its population in a rapidly changing health environment and the need to restart business and leisure air traffic to support the economy.
From the very beginning, Canada adopted a very prudent approach, enforcing a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all individuals entering the country lasting from February to July 2021, quickly coupled with a mandate to prevent anyone who was not fully vaccinated to board any plane, train or long-distance bus in the country.
The very controversial mandate has been in force since May 2021, and it was only a few days ago that the Canadian authorities decided to suspend the requirement as of June 20, together with the requirement that all federally regulated employees be vaccinated to perform their duties. In Canada, all employees in the transportation, telecommunication, and banking sectors are regulated at a federal level.
This move will allow non-vaccinated people to board a domestic plane and leave the country if they choose to do so, but “because vaccination rates and virus control in other countries varies significantly, current vaccination requirements at the border will remain in effect”, said Transport Canada in an official note.
Masks will still be mandatory for all people traveling by plane or by train, while it has been dropped for long-distance buses. Vaccination will still be required for passengers and crews on cruise ships due to “the fact that passengers are in close contact with each other for extended periods of time.”
While domestic travel will become much easier for non-vaccinated individuals, their ability to cross borders will still be significantly restricted: people eligible to return to Canada will be able to enter the country but they will still need to provide a negative test before boarding a plane to Canada, undertake another test on their arrival and be prepared to spend up to 14 days in quarantine should they be requested to do so by border agents, as well as take another test on Day 8 after their arrival in the country.
This decision from the Government follows the one announced a week earlier to suspend the practice of random-testing passengers arriving from international flights at airports in Canada. The suspension will last six weeks and during this time the process will be taken off-airport as expanding crowds are making it extremely difficult to keep this process in structures that were never designed for these activities
However, no change has been made to the policy regarding foreign individuals wishing to travel to Canada: only fully vaccinated foreign visitors will be admitted into Canada.