Open Jaw reported Monday night about word that Ottawa would drop vaccine mandates for travel, and Tuesday, 14JUN, it came through.
Beginning 20JUN, Canadians travelling will not be required to prove full vaccination to board an outbound aircraft or long-distance train.
Masks will still be required in both travel settings.
Inbound international pax coming to Canada will still need to be fully vaccinated, as will all cruise ship pax and crew, who will also have to continue to comply with other strict health protocols.
The news for Canadian travellers is paired with updated requirements for federal employees and workers in federally-regulated sectors, including air and train travel, who will no longer be required to be fully vaccinated to continue their employment.
In making the announcement for Canadians travelling by air and rail, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc used the word “suspension.” It’s the term that’s also been used when easing other eased COVID-related regulations, and comes with the implication that restrictions could be reinstated if the government deems it appropriate. LeBlanc made that very clear.
"Today's announcement is possible because Canadians have stepped up to protect each other," LeBlanc said. "We are now able to adjust our policy because we have followed consistently the best advice from public health authorities."
He also deflected criticism about how long it took to make the move, one many other countries have already made. Canada’s travel vaccine mandate has been in effect since OCT 2021.
"We deliberately decided to be cautious. We deliberately decided to take our time. We're not going to apologize for that," he told reporters.
Catastrophically-long lineups for departing and arriving pax in Canada’s major international airports, as well as planes held on the tarmac to ‘meter’ pax filling up arrivals halls and even travellers missing flights and connections, have been blamed in part on government health protocols adding time to processing pax, with a snowball effect on lineups.
Last week, Ottawa announced that it was suspending random COVID-19 testing at airports and taking additional measures, including a hiring spree and accelerated training of security and CBSA agents, to help ease processing backlogs at Canada’s airports.