ACTA urges action on updated travel advisory and vaccination acceptance

ACTA urges action on updated travel advisory and vaccination acceptance

TORONTO — ACTA has issued an urgent call to the federal government to prioritize issues of global recognition of vaccinations, and to also update Canada’s blanket advisory against non-essential travel with more specific country-by-country advisories.

While Canadians vaccinated with AstraZeneca got some good news in recent days – the U.S. now says it recognizes all vaccines approved by the FDA, and now also the WHO, including AstraZeneca – there’s still no word on whether Canadian travellers who got mixed doses will be able to cross the border.

And globally the acceptance of the various COVID vaccines for travel is a mishmash of policies, further adding confusion on top of hassle for Canadians looking to travel.

As ACTA says, “the recognition of Canadian vaccinations by other countries – and out-of-date travel advisories – are negatively impacting Canadian travellers and tourism business survival.”

ACTA is asking the federal government to …

  • Plan coordinated national proof-of-vaccination certificate program, which must follow global best-practices to ensure broad recognition. Preferably, the program would be developed multilaterally with countries frequented by Canadian travellers.
  • Continue engaging with foreign governments to ensure that Health Canada-approved vaccination schedules and WHO-approved vaccination agents are recognized globally. This includes immediate and aggressive diplomacy to ensure the upcoming U.S. traveller policy does not prohibit the entry of Canadians based on mixed vaccination status.

Close to 4 million Canadians have mixed doses of Pfizer, Moderna and/or AstraZeneca.

ACTA is also urging the government to update Canada’s global ‘avoid non-essential’ and ‘avoid all cruise ship’ travel advisories. Both have been in effect for over 18 months and have not been updated in the current context of broad vaccination, says ACTA.

More than 86% of Canadians have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine, and 80% have received both doses.

ACTA is advocating for a phased-in approach, and proposes creating two streams of advisories:

  • The global travel advisory is removed for fully vaccinated travellers, recognizing the protection offered by vaccination. Country-specific advisories are reinstated based on risk.
  • For unvaccinated travellers, the global travel advisory continues as safety concerns for these individuals remain.

ACTA says this approach should also apply to cruise travel. “In the past few months, cruise lines have adopted strict biohazard protocols and have proven that safe operations are feasible. Global Affairs Canada should modify the cruise travel advisory for fully vaccinated travellers on cruise lines that have adopted strict biohazard safety protocols,” says ACTA, adding that the advisory would remain as-is for unvaccinated travellers.

ACTA is also proposing a post-arrival testing regime for children for whom vaccinations are unavailable.

Many travel industry execs, including Adventure Coordinators owner Tom Gehrels, and Wheel & Anchor founder Gordon Dreger, have contacted the federal government asking for risk-based updates to the travel advisory.