As of Tuesday, Canadians who are unvaccinated against the COVID-19 virus can now travel by airplane or by train after eight months of being banned from such modes of travel. As of July 1, the government will also stop randomly testing travellers at airports for the COVID-19 virus.
Since October 30 of last year, Canadians 12 and over who were not vaccinated against COVID-19 were barred from boarding a plane or train, and while some travellers could show negative COVID-19 tests to board such transport, most were not allowed to do so.
The federal government put the vaccine mandate in place last fall when the Delta variant remained the dominant variant of the virus, and vaccines were much more effective at preventing both transmission and infection than they are against the newer Omicron variants.
At the same time, the federal government announced earlier this month it was temporarily ending random COVID-19 testing of incoming vaccinated passengers at airports between June 11 and June 30. Unvaccinated travellers are still required to be tested on-site during that time.
Additionally, the government no longer requires fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada to wear masks in public spaces, monitor and report if they developed signs or symptoms, quarantine if another traveller in the same travel group showed signs or symptoms or tested positive, and maintain a list of close contacts and locations visited.
The travel restrictions were put in place before the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which has proved remarkably contagious and resistant to vaccines.
When the government announced the relaxation of travel restrictions, theCanadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable lauded the government’s decision.
“This positive development will bring Canada into better alignment with other major countries, is a recognition that the Canadian travel and tourism industry has long been among the country’s safest, and brings the industry closer to a return to normal,” the group’s statement said.
The tourism industry had been hit particularly hard by the pandemic’s effects.
The tourism industry has been among the hardest hit in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Canada’s tourism sector lost 50 percent of its revenue and nine percent of its businesses — the worst year on record for the industry that also saw 900,000 workers lose their jobs — according to figures provided by Destination Canada.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase