Changes are coming to how the government of Canada will advise vaccinated citizens, which could see a change in entry requirements, international travel guidelines, and the implementation of vaccine passports.
Canada’s Health Minister, Patty Hajdu, says guidance is coming shortly for what fully vaccinated Canadians can and can’t do, including how it relates to both domestic and international travel.
With a slower than expected rollout of vaccines, along with an unprecedented third-wave, the government of Canada has been very quiet on offering official guidance and advice about approved activities for vaccinated persons. However, now is not the time to stay silent. With many citizens experiencing more than a year with various lockdowns, official guidance is the responsible thing for the government to publish at this time, especially to show confidence in their vaccination efforts.
In an interview on CTV’s Question Period Hajdu stated “We are working with provinces and territories to understand their own epidemiology… It’s the percentage of Canadians that are vaccinated, and it’s the extent of disease that’s being transmitted in communities. We will have guidance out for Canadians very shortly about what they can do with one dose or two doses of the vaccine,”
In April, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention published their list of recommendations and guidance for fully vaccinated people. It includes clear advice on activities that are considered safe for vaccinated people in regards to gatherings, travel and more.
According to the CDC, once you are fully vaccinated you can:
- Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with other fully vaccinated people of any age
- Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with one household of unvaccinated people, providing they are not high-risk for illness
- Travel domestically without a pre or post travel test
- Travel domestically without quarantine
- Travel internationally without a pre travel test
- Travel internationally without quarantining after travel
- And recently added April 27: Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask outdoors, except in certain crowded settings and venues.
Many Canadians have been asking for similar published guidance from the Health Ministry so they can have a clear understanding of how vaccines will allow them to resume life safely, especially when it comes to travel.
Miranda S., a travel agent in Mississauga, ON, told Travel Off Path “I’ve been out of business for over a year because of the pandemic. What I don’t understand is why the government is not yet recognizing vaccines as a safe path forward. If they don’t have the confidence that vaccinated people can start to do things like work and travel again, why are we all getting the vaccines in the first place?”
Hajdu says advice is on the way, and Canadians should hold out just a little longer. “We will have guidance out shortly for Canadians. And it’s very important that we all continue to follow those public health measures until we are certain that our communities are safe,”
Travel rule changes coming for fully vaccinated Canadians?
If the Canadian government follows advice similar to the CDC’s, a massive change might be coming to quarantine measures for fully vaccinated passengers.
Currently, the CDC states that fully vaccinated passengers don’t need to quarantine upon their return to the US after traveling internationally. Canada’s current rules couldn’t be further from the opposite with a 14-day quarantine, the first 3 of those days spent in a government-approved hotel, and 3 PCR tests. Canada currently makes no exceptions for vaccinated passengers.
Canada’s Tough Border Rules Didn’t Keep Cases Down
Despite Canada having some of the toughest entry rules in the entire world, that has not stopped a record-breaking third wave of cases from exploding across all provinces. This comes as a surprise, especially as nations like the U.S. and Mexico have seen a dramatic downturn in cases, despite their open borders and relaxed entry requirements.
It seems as if the strict border rules aren’t aiding in keeping cases down, with data suggests that over 98% of all new cases are caused by community spread with less than 2% resulting from travel.
Many Canadians who’ve needed to travel during the pandemic, especially ones traveling for essential purposes, have felt a massive stigma against them not only from their own government, but also from fellow citizens. Travellers have been a scapegoat for the cause of rising cases, while the major contributors like workplaces go unblamed.
The Tourism Industry Association of Canada is pleading with the government to replace its harsh entry requirements, which includes up to 4 PCR tests and a 14-day quarantine, with a more scientific approach, especially when it comes to making entry easier for returning vaccinated Canadians.
“Countries around the world have amended their approach to quarantine using evidence-based data that supports reduced quarantine and an increased testing regime as a more effective way to protect populations,” said TIAC President and CEO Beth Potter “We believe Canada needs to rethink quarantine rules and invest in rapid testing and contact tracing.”
Vaccine Passports Coming to Canada
Both Prime Minister Trudeau and the Canadian Health Ministry has suggested that vaccine passports are coming to Canada. Trudeau stated “naturally to be expected when it comes to this pandemic and the coronavirus.” While Hajdu agreed that the government supports the idea of a “vaccine passport” and will come up with a form of vaccine certification to allow vaccinated Canadians to travel internationally.
Hajdu has been one of the only government officials to publicly recognize that a plan needs to be formulated for the safe resumption of travel, which is something that can’t be put on hold forever.
On May 1, Hajdu told CBC radio “Canadians are going to want to travel and just like there have been changes in other kinds of travel requirements over the years as a result of a number of events, Canadians need to be prepared to be able to travel internationally. And we’ll make sure that they are,”
Canada won’t be first to develop a vaccine passport and many countries worldwide are also developing and testing their own versions.
This morning, President of the EU commission Ursula von der Leyen, confirmed the commission has officially proposed to all Member States that they allow vaccinated tourists this summer. Specifically, the draft mentions allowing in third-party nationals for non-essential reasons, which could start as early as June if accepted by members and will correlate with their Digital Green Certificate vaccine passport program.
Over 30+ countries worldwide have already made exceptions for the entry of vaccination passengers with additional nations joining daily.
The Canadian government is already in talks with other countries, notably other G7 counterparts, on how to standardize a vaccine passport program that will be recognized globally. Either a new app will be made or the current ArriveCan app will be modified to accommodate proof of vaccination certificates. Either way, Canadians should expect new rules coming down the pipeline for fully vaccinated passengers.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories