Canada will drop vaccine mandates for domestic and outbound international travelers and federal employees next week.
According to an announcement on Tuesday by the Canadian government, the vaccination requirement to board a plane or train in Canada will be suspended from Monday.
In addition, federally regulated transport-sector employers no longer will be required to have mandatory vaccination policies in place for their employees.
The new policy will allow unvaccinated Canadians to board planes and trains heading to domestic or international locations. However, foreign nationals going to Canada still will be required to be vaccinated to enter.
Vaccine mandates for cruise-ship passengers and crew members also will remain in place due to the “unique nature” of such travel, the government said.
Canada introduced the vaccine mandates for travel on Oct 30, to bar passengers over the age of 12 who were not vaccinated from boarding planes or trains.
The government said Tuesday’s moves come from “following a successful vaccination campaign”.
Thirty-two million (nearly 90 percent) eligible Canadians have been vaccinated, and case counts have decreased. Rates of hospitalization and deaths are also decreasing across the highly vaccinated country.
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc said that the federal government will bring the mandates back if the COVID-19 situation changes for the worse.
“Our government will continue to make decisions based on the best public health advice and adjust its measures accordingly,” said LeBlanc.
The federal government has been under pressure to relax some public health measures in response to delays and long lines at airports. Since last month, Canadians have been waiting hours to get through regular travel checkpoints after random COVID-19 testing, which created huge passenger backlogs at border security, especially at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the government is working with airlines and airports to ease the congestion. Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said that while the suspension of vaccine mandates reflects an improved public health situation in Canada, the coronavirus continues to evolve and circulate in Canada and globally.