TORONTO — As expected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that everyone 12 and older travelling on a plane or train will have to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination.
The new mandate takes effect at the end of October. Trudeau said that there will be an interim period to allow for travellers who have started the vaccination process, to show proof of a negative test.
However by the end of November proof of full COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory and testing “will no longer be an option,” said Trudeau today in a media briefing.
The federal government’s advisory against all non-essential travel outside Canada has been in place for more than 18 months now.
Later in the briefing Trudeau made reference to travel this winter. “If you haven’t gotten your shots yet but want to travel this winter, let’s be clear, there will only be a few extremely narrow exceptions, like a valid medical condition.”
Trudeau added: “For the vast majority of people, the rules are very simple. To travel, you’ve got to be vaccinated.”
He also said that “in the weeks to come” there will be an update on the pan-Canadian vaccine passport for international travel.
Trudeau was asked how gate agents at Canada’s airports will handle checking the wide variety of proof of vaccination documents for airline passengers.
Trudeau responded that the federal government is working with Canada’s airlines to integrate proof of vaccination certification into airline tickets, to streamline processes at the airport.
PROOF OF VACCINATION MEASURES FOR TRAVELLERS FIRST ANNOUNCED IN AUGUST 2021
Trudeau had already signaled last month that proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for travellers would be one of the federal government’s top 5 priorities following the election.
“If you’re planning on getting on a plane or a train in the coming weeks or months, make sure that you and all members of your family over 12 years old have gotten vaccinated and are getting your second shot if you haven’t already, because you will not be able to travel on a plane or a train in Canada if you are not fully vaccinated,” said Trudeau on Sept. 29, in his first post-election media briefing.
The federal government first announced mandatory proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for Canadian air, interprovincial rail and cruise ship passengers back on Aug. 13, just before the election was called.
Also a top 5 priority is making sure that there’s a vaccine passport to facilitate international travel.
Talk of Canada’s vaccine passport for international travel has been ongoing since spring 2021, when Health Minister Patty Hajdu and others confirmed that Canada was working in collaboration with other G7 countries to make sure any certification from Canada aligned with other vaccine passports overseas.
The EU’s Digital Green Certificate has been in use in EU countries for several months now. In June 2021 Trudeau said Canada’s proof of vaccination system for international travel could be in place by fall 2021.
However from the campaign trail in September he said “we will be bringing in that more formalized version in the coming months or a year perhaps”, and suggested that the Liberal party was open to working with the provinces to certify provincial vaccine passports for use for international travel.
The majority of Canadian provinces now have vaccine passports or they’re in the works. Meanwhile the ArriveCAN app is working as a stop-gap measure. Also on Trudeau’s top 5 list: footing the bill for provinces and territories who have moved forward on proof of vaccination certificates or vaccine passports. Trudeau has said the federal government will provide $1 billion to help provinces and territories shoulder that cost.