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Canada suspends COVID-19 vaccination requirement for travel

Changes affect those flying and on trains within Canada, and those flying out of the country
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Canadian airports have been congested in recent months as more people feel safe flying.

Unvaccinated travellers will be able to board planes and trains in Canada starting June 20, thanks to the federal government lifting the requirement that travellers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The loosened rules apply to those on domestic planes and trains as well as planes flying to foreign destinations. The country will continue to require foreign nationals to be vaccinated. Returning unvaccinated Canadians will continue to need to provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test, and to quarantine for 14 days.

The government also lifted its requirement that all of its transportation-sector employees, other core federal employees and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police be fully vaccinated.

“As the country’s largest employer, the [federal] government has led by example to help protect the health and safety of the federal workforce, as well as those in the federally regulated travel sector," said Treasury Board president Mona Fortier. 

"We are now in a much better place across Canada, and vaccination mandates helped us to get there. As we move forward, we will continue to take action to keep public servants safe, and all employees are strongly encouraged to keep their vaccinations current so they get all recommended doses.”

Several government ministers released statements to media June 14 to confirm the changes that were rumoured to be in the works.

“The mandatory vaccination requirement successfully mitigated the full impact of COVID-19 for travellers and workers in the transportation sector and provided broader protection to our communities," said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra. 

"Suspending this requirement is possible thanks to the tens of millions of Canadians who did the right thing: they stepped up, rolled up their sleeves, and got vaccinated. This action will support Canada’s transportation system as we recover from the pandemic.”

Mask mandates remain on planes, trains and ships.

"While the suspension of vaccine mandates reflects an improved public health situation in Canada, the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve and circulate in Canada," said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.

Tuesday's news follows the federal government, on June 11, pausing its policy of randomly issuing COVID-19 tests to internationally arriving passengers. This pause is set to end on July 1. When Canada resumes randomly testing these passengers, the tests will be conducted in a location outside of airports in order not to disrupt passenger flow within airports. 

gkorstrom@biv.com

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