TORONTO — Canada’s largest daily newspaper has joined those urging the federal government to green-light vaccination passports.
“Canada needs to get moving on vaccination passports for international travel” reads the headline in the March 19, 2021 editorial in The Star.
The Star’s Editorial Board says it’s imperative that Canada get in step with initiatives around the world aimed at paving the way to restarting international travel.
As the Star notes, the European Commission last week laid out its proposal for issuing ‘Digital Green Certificates’ that would allow EU residents to travel freely across the 27-nation bloc by summer 2021, as long as they have been vaccinated, tested negative for COVID-19 or have recovered from the disease.
Also last week, Iceland announced that starting March 18 everyone who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to travel to Iceland without being subject to PCR testing and quarantine, including all U.S. citizens.
The editorial notes that while Canada was slow compared to some countries to shut down travel at the beginning of the pandemic, it also risks lagging behind other countries in the move to restart travel.
“As Canada played catch-up we’ve been hearing almost daily of developments in other countries, and within global businesses, that make it clear that Canadians will be disadvantaged without a vaccination passport for international travel,” says the Star.
As many in the industry have noted, and as the Star points out, the government-issued yellow cards indicating vaccinations for illnesses like yellow fever have been a mainstay for international travel to some countries for decades.
“So there’s nothing new in the idea of setting guidelines and establishing comprehensive documentation to facilitate international travel and protect the health of travellers,” says the Star.
While initially opposed to vaccination passports, Trudeau has come around in recent weeks, saying “this is something countries are actively exploring. And we are among those countries.”
Speed is of the essence, warns The Star: “The federal government has been slow to announce a vaccination passport plan for Canadians travelling abroad in a COVID world. We’re not exactly surprised. Ottawa has been slow on issues of travel since the beginning of the pandemic.”
The editorial notes the emergence of all-vaccinated cruises, including Saga Holidays and P&O Cruises in the UK. In recent days new Bahamas & Caribbean sailings announced by Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Crystal also require all adult passengers to show proof of vaccination.
Trudeau has been careful to distinguish between vaccination passports for international travel, and proof of vaccination for use domestically, i.e. for everyday activities here in Canada. When it comes to certification of vaccinations for international travel, “that’s something that has existed for a long time,” said Trudeau. “This is a well-established practice.”
The Star agrees, adding, “What happens domestically is an entirely different, and understandably knotty, problem. But in aiding a return to a world of freer flying, this is one initiative with which the feds need to hop on board.”