Lifting of regulations has been called for by border-city mayors
The federal government says it's dropping all COVID-19 measures at borders on Saturday, meaning travellers will no longer need to provide proof of vaccination when entering Canada or wear masks on planes and trains.
As of Oct. 1, all travellers, regardless of citizenship, will no longer have to:
- Submit public health information through the ArriveCAN app or website;
- Provide proof of vaccination;
- Undergo pre- or on-arrival testing;
- Carry out COVID-19-related quarantine or isolation;
- Monitor and report if they develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 upon arriving to Canada;
- Undergo health checks for travel on air and rail;
- Or wear masks on planes and trains.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Monday's decision is not a sign Canada is out of the pandemic, but said the government's data showed the importation of new variants was no longer having an effect on the evolution of the virus in country.
WATCH | Canada announces ease of border measures:
Canada announces ease of border measures as of Oct 1
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says as of today Canada will drop the order-in-council regarding travel mandates, meaning travellers can come into Canada without the use of ArriveCAN or needing to isolate or quarantine if they test positive for COVID-19.
"If anybody believes the pandemic is over, I invite them to visit a hospital," he said.
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"That decision again was driven by the evidence that we have seen over the last few weeks and months, which is that the transmission and cost of transmission of COVID-19 on our health-care workers, hospitals and including those patients who have seen backlogs in their surgeries and treatments over the last two years and a half … are now almost entirely driven by domestic transmission of COVID-19. That's where we need to invest our energy."
The measures also apply to cruise ships so passengers will no longer be required to take pre-board tests, be vaccinated or use ArriveCAN. The government said guidelines will remain in place to protect passengers and crew, keeping in step with the United States.
Last week a group of MPs and border-city mayors published an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden asking them to end the "unnecessary" rules at the border, a move they say would allow border communities to recover economically from the pandemic.
WATCH | Canada drops masks on planes and trains:
Canada drops masks on planes and trains
Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra announces that as of Oct. 1, passengers on planes and trains will no longer be required to wear a mask.
Duclos said those concerns also weighed on the government's decision to lift the measures.
"When making those decisions, we are mindful of the challenges and the cost that border communities have been facing over the last few weeks and months. It has been hard for them," he said.
"My colleagues and all members of our caucus have felt that and listened to them."
The health minister didn't rule out reinstating restrictions if they are needed to keep Canadians safe.
Masks still recommended: Njoo
While masks will soon no longer be mandatory, Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief health officer, said he still recommends that people wear masks on planes and trains.
"The science is clear: wearing a mask is clearly a means of personal protection that is extremely effective," he said.
"I hope Canadians will make an enlightened decision about this."
WATCH | One of Canada's top doctors urges Canadians to keep wearing masks:
One of Canada's top doctors encourages continued masking
Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy chief public health officer of Canada, urges Canadians to continue wearing masks in 'certain contexts' despite the latest removal of mask mandates.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the ArriveCan app can still be used by travellers to submit customs declarations in advance at major airports. That option is available at international airports in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, but there are plans to expand to airports in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Quebec City, Halifax and the Billy Bishop airport in Toronto.
The government also said the Canada Border Services Agency is looking at adding features to ArriveCan, like border wait times.
with files from the Canadian Press
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