COVID-19 airport plan halted: Why Toronto, Vancouver won’t separate vaccinated, unvaccinated travellers

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A healthcare worker checks a traveler's documents at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, on July 5, 2021. Starting from Monday, "fully vaccinated" Canadians and permanent residents can enter Canada without undergoing quarantine. (Photo by Liang Sen/Xinhua via Getty Images) (Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images)

Airports in Vancouver and Toronto have rolled back initial attempts to separate vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers after the airports cited that the two lines did not achieve its goal of more efficient movement.

"Effectively immediately, passengers entering Canada from the U.S. or another international destination will no longer be separated based on vaccination status prior to reaching Customs," a statement provided to Yahoo Canada from the Vancouver Airport Authority reads.

"The goal with dual lines for vaccinated and non-/partially-vaccinated travellers entering Canada was to streamline the border clearance process as there are different requirements for each group. However, the configuration of the two primary border control inspection lines and the volume of fully vaccinated passengers did not achieve anticipated goals for a smooth passenger flow and faster processing times. As more vaccinated passengers than expected are entering the country, we need the full use of the customs hall and assets."

A statement from the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) confirms similar findings, after the process came to an end on July 26 at Toronto Pearson Airport.

"As Government of Canada travel restrictions ease in a health-focused and measured way, Toronto Pearson is committed to testing measures that will prioritize passenger and employee health while also resulting in efficiencies in the airport journey," the statement provided to Yahoo Canada reads.

"Toronto Pearson, in collaboration with government and other partners, has determined that separation of vaccinated and non/partially-vaccinated travellers in customs lines results in minimal operational efficiencies. As such, the practice will be ceased as of July 26, 2021, with entry requirements based on vaccination status being enforced once a passenger reaches a CBSA officer."

Some Canadians took to social media to respond to this change, with mixed responses.

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