As Open Jaw reported Monday 19SEP, sources in the federal government have been telling media that Ottawa is going to allow the final restrictions on travel in Canada to expire or be cancelled at the end of this month.
The Order in Council that outlines most of the COVID regulations for entering Canada expires on 30SEP, and reports throughout the week have echoed initial reports from last weekend that the federal government is going to let it expire.
That would mean an end to vaccine requirements for non-Canadians entering Canada, mandatory testing and quarantine for unvaccinated Canadians and random testing at airports.
The Liberal cabinet met Thursday evening, and ministers were mum on the subject when grilled afterwards by journalists, but media reports have “confirmed” that the Prime Minister has approved the decision not to extend the order. According to CBC sources, “the government is expected to make an official announcement on Monday (26SEP).”
Questions remain about two big sticking points for the travel industry: the mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app and masking on commercial flights.
Both those requirements may be on their way out, too. CTVNews reports that the order also includes the requirement for travellers to submit their health information electronically. That’s only possible through the ArriveCAN app. So if and when the order expires, that drops the requirement to use ArriveCAN for vaccine and test results, effectively eliminating the mandatory use of ArriveCAN.
CTVNews reports that Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault confirmed that even if the order expires, that would only eliminate mandatory use of ArriveCAN for vaccine reporting.
That doesn’t mean ArriveCAN will disappear, however.
As Open Jaw reported in JUN, Ottawa has said the app remains a useful tool for a more efficient, digital approach to border security operations, which is already happening in many destinations like Europe.
"If we're going to want to go from 22 million visitors in 2019, to something closer to 30 million by 2030, we're going to have to have a digital border," Boissonnault told CTVNews.
Already, pax arriving at several Canadian airports can use the app to submit customs and immigration information rather than by paper, which Ottawa says saves pax lineup and processing time.
As for masks on commercial flights, the expiration of the order will not automatically end that requirement as that rule was mandated by the minister of transport in a separate order.
Nonetheless, media reports say masking mandates are also on their way out, with WestJet’s CEO, Alexis von Hoensbroech, declaring on social media his hope that when the other travel restriction orders expire, mandatory masking will become “‘recommended but optional’ as it becomes increasingly unenforceable!”