Unvaccinated travelers over the age of 12 will be banned from planes and trains from today
Unvaccinated travelers over the age of 12 cannot board a plane or train in Canada as of today, and a negative COVID-19 test will no longer serve as a substitute for most people.
The policy went into effect on October 30, but the federal government allowed unvaccinated travelers who could board a brief transition period, as long as they presented a negative COVID-19 molecular test performed within 72 hours of their trip.
The stringent new requirement comes into effect as Canada responds to the emergence of the new, highly mutated omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The discovery of the new variant has led to border closings and tighter controls in Canada and abroad, amid concerns that it might prove transferable.
The risk associated with the Omicron variant is very high according to the World Health Organization, but there are still many public health officials out there and scientists do not know about it.
While anyone entering Canada or boarding a plane or train within the country must be vaccinated, there are currently no quarantine measures, except for those who have recently traveled through southern Africa.
While many airlines have previously conducted random checks to ensure travelers are vaccinated, Air Canada and WestJet have confirmed that starting today they will require proof of anyone boarding in Canada.
Other public health measures are still in place
Other measures such as masks and health exams will continue to be mandatory.
“If you tell your airline or railroad that you are eligible to board but you don’t have a vaccination certificate or a valid COVID-19 test result, you won’t be able to travel and face fines or fines,” the government website said.
The government has warned on social media that even Canadians and those permanently residing abroad cannot return home without a full list of approved vaccines.
There are a few exceptions, including valid medical exemptions, traveling to remote communities only accessible by air, and those traveling through Canada en route to another destination.
Most people who are eligible for an exemption will need an up-to-date COVID-19 test.
The vaccination mandate was positively received by the Canadian aviation industry when it was first announced in October, although some companies were concerned about making the necessary preparations in a timely manner.
Since then, the federal government has announced standardized vaccination records that will be distributed by provinces and territories for national and international travel.