Rob Gillies and Bailey Schulz | Associated Press and USA TODAY
TORONTO — The Canadian government will soon require all air travelers and passengers on interprovincial trains to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Friday that includes all commercial air travelers, passengers on trains between provinces and cruise ship passengers. The announcement comes less than a week after Canada opened its borders to fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents.
The government is also requiring vaccinations for all federal public servants in the country.
“As soon as possible in the fall and no later than the end of October, the Government of Canada will require employees in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors to be vaccinated. The vaccination requirement will also extend to certain travelers. This includes all commercial air travelers,” Alghabra’s office said in a statement.
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Currently, air travelers entering Canada are required to show proof of negative COVID-19 PCR test results taken within 72 hours of their scheduled departure. Unvaccinated air travelers must take another COVID-19 test upon arrival to Canada and toward the end of a mandated 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
Alghabra said additional measures are needed to encourage more people to get vaccinated and to protect the hard-won gains the country has made to flatten the epidemic curve.
Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with about 63.37% of its population fully vaccinated according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Medicine. Even so, cases are starting to creep up again in what Canada’s top health official dubbed a fourth wave this week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. State Department each downgraded their travel advisories for Canada earlier this week, but the U.S. border is set to remain closed to Canadian tourists through at least Aug. 21.
The Canadian government is working on a vaccine passport that can be also used in Canada.
Air Canada, Canada’s largest domestic and international carrier, released a statement in support of the new measures, adding that it will work with the government and its unions to implement the new policy.
“Although Air Canada awaits further details about today’s announcement on mandatory vaccinations, it is a welcome step forward in the evolving measures to protect the health and safety of airline employees, customers and all Canadians,” the statement reads.
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