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Govt. confirms vaccine mandate suspended as of June 20, for planes and trains but not cruise travel

OTTAWA — Effective June 20, 2022, COVID-19 vaccine mandates will be suspended for domestic travel on planes and trains, as well as for outbound international travel.

The news was confirmed by the federal government this afternoon, after earlier reports this morning that the announcement was coming.

The rules for foreign nationals entering Canada will not change.

The rules for cruise travel also will not change.

“On June 20, our government will suspend the requirement to be vaccinated in order to board a plane or train in Canada,” said Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra this afternoon.

Govt. confirms vaccine mandate suspended as of June 20, for planes and trains but not cruise travel

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra

“There are no changes for travellers entering Canada, who must continue to follow all entry requirements including vaccination and using ArriveCAN,” he added.

“As for cruise ships, vaccination for passengers and crew will remain in place. This decision is based on the unique nature of cruise ship travel, including the fact that passengers are in close contact with each other for extended periods of time,” he said.

The mask mandate on federally regulated planes and trains will also remain in place, he added, noting that in the bigger picutre, masks are a “small, minor inconvenience” for travellers.

Today’s announcement came from Minister Alghabra as well as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, Dominic LeBlanc, the President of the Treasury Board of Canada, Mona Fortier, and the Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos.

Minister LeBlanc thanked Canadians for getting vaccinated. “Canadians have done what they needed to do to protect each other,” he said.

“WE ARE PREPARED TO BRING BACK THE POLICIES”

Canadians also need to be prepared for the potential return of the virus in the fall, said LeBlanc. “If the situation takes a turn for the worse, we are prepared to bring back the policies necessary to protect Canadians.”

LeBlanc cautioned that today’s announcement “isn’t about shortening wait times that are currently being experienced at some of Canada’s airports. As you know, these wait times are mainly caused by staffing shortages. The adjustments we’re making today are based on science and they will not have an immediate impact on these airport delays.”

He added that the federal government remains committed to reducing the wait times at Canada’s airports. “We have already taken a number of steps to improve this situation. And my colleague the Minister of Transport will have more to say in the coming months.”

ArriveCAN isn’t going anywhere, said Alghabra, who called the app an effective tool in the country’s arsenal against protecting Canadians against COVID-19.

Alghabra was asked about the potential for even longer lineups for travel in and out of Canada’s airports in the coming weeks now that unvaccinated travellers can travel as well.

In response, he outlined some of the measures the federal government has already taken to alleviate the airport delays, and finished by saying: “We’re seeing significant improvements in delay data, whether it’s for outbound travel or inbound travellers. But I know we need to do more.”