Unvaccinated travelers excluded from flights and trains in Canada as of today

Health workers are waiting for air passengers at a COVID-19 test center at Trudeau Airport in Montreal on Feb. 19.Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press

Unvaccinated travelers over the age of 12 will not be able to board a plane or passenger train in Canada from today, and a negative COVID-19 test will no longer serve as a replacement for most people.

The policy went into effect on October 30, but the federal government allowed a short transition period for unvaccinated travelers who could board as long as they provided a negative molecular COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their trip.

The strict new requirement comes into force as Canada responds to the emergence of the new, highly mutated Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The discovery of the new variant has led to border closures and stricter screening in Canada and abroad for fear that it could prove more transferable.

The risk related to the Omicron variant is very high according to the World Health Organization, but there is still a lot that public health officials and scientists do not know about it.

While anyone entering Canada or boarding a plane or train inland needs to be vaccinated, there are currently no quarantine measures in place, except for people who have recently been in transit through southern Africa.

While many airlines have so far conducted random checks to ensure that travelers are vaccinated, Air Canada and West Jet have confirmed that they will ask for proof from anyone boarding in Canada as of today.

Other measures, such as masks and health examinations, will still be mandatory.

“If you indicate to your airline or railway company that you are entitled to board but fail to provide proof of vaccination or a valid COVID-19 test result, you will not be allowed to travel and may face fines or penalties, “informs the government’s website.

The rule does not apply to commuter trains.

The government has issued warnings on social media that even Canadians and permanent residents abroad will not be able to return home without a complete list of approved vaccines.

There are some exceptions, including valid medical exemptions, travel to remote communities that are only accessible by air, and those that transit through Canada on their way to another destination.

Most people who qualify for an exemption must have a recent COVID-19 test.

The vaccine mandate was met with a positive response from Canada’s aviation industry when it was first announced in October, although some companies were concerned about making the necessary preparations in time.

Since then, the federal government has announced a standardized vaccination document that has been distributed by provinces and territories for domestic and international travel.

Global authorities responded with alarm last Friday to a new coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa, with the EU and the UK among those tightening border controls, as researchers sought to find out if the mutation was vaccine-resistant.


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