Canada Lifts Covid Vaccine Mandate For International Travelers

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Canada will drop its Covid-19 vaccine requirements for visitors entering the country beginning Oct. 1, officials announced Monday, reopening the Canadian border to unvaccinated travelers for the first time since the global coronavirus vaccination campaign began.

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Important facts

Canadian and international travelers will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccinations or pre-travel testing, quarantine or isolation upon entering the country starting Saturday.

In a statement Monday, Health Canada said the country is meeting the requirements due to its high vaccination coverage along with low coronavirus hospitalization and death rates, increased availability of vaccine boosters and rapid tests, and the peak of the BA.4 and BA.5 Coronavirus waves are passing.

The move comes a week after Canadian MPs and mayors of border towns wrote a letter urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden to lift “unnecessary” travel restrictions they claim have hurt border towns, too when “both countries have largely returned to normal everyday life.”

Canada now joins a list of 85 countries and territories with no Covid-19 entry requirements after similar steps were taken by Japan last month, as well as Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Jamaica, and Cuba the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Chile.

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Non-US citizens entering the United States by air, sea, or land must remain fully vaccinated per US policy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires a full vaccination (without a booster shot) for non-US citizens before boarding a flight, with limited exceptions for children under the age of 18, people traveling for foreign government work, and people with certain Medical conditions that prevent this from receiving a vaccine.

key background

Covid-19 cases in Canadian provinces are well below their January peak and Covid-related hospital admissions are also declining, according to government data. Approximately 85.4% of Canadians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 82% (31.39 million) have completed their first vaccination course. Despite the high vaccination rate, Canadian officials had come under fire over strict vaccination requirements at the country’s border with the United States, particularly in January when truck drivers unhappy with vaccination requirements protested across the country and a disruptive blockade in the capital made from Ottawa. Trudeau called for emergency measures to resolve the blockade. Prior to Monday’s announcement, Canada had required full primary immunizations for non-Canadian citizens entering the country, with few exceptions for workers such as fishermen, as well as people coming for medical treatment, people with medical conditions and people attending funerals come.

What to look out for

Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos thanked Canadians for the high vaccination rates, but said: “We expect that Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses will continue to circulate during the cold months.” He urged people to get booster shots and ” carry out individual public health measures”.

Further reading

Border vaccination rules, mandatory use of ArriveCAN, mask requirement on planes, trains end October 1 (CBC)

Canada waives vaccinations and makes ArriveCan optional for travelers (Forbes)

Canada lifts all COVID travel restrictions from October 1 (Reuters)