Canada will no longer require domestic or outbound travellers to show proof of vaccination — but not all Canadians think the newly-relaxed rules are a step in the right direction.
The federal government has faced significant pressure from the hospitality and tourism sectors for several months, particularly when it dropped testing requirements for travellers but kept vaccine mandates in place.
Effective June 20, the Canadian government will "suspend" COVID-19 vaccine mandates for domestic and outbound international travellers and federally regulated workers.
The decision was based on current epidemiological trends, as well as economic considerations for struggling industries, ministers said Tuesday (June 14).
Canada vaccine policy: Economic and health considerations
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the reason the government is changing course now is that there are encouraging epidemiological trends anticipated for the next few months.
"The number of hospitalizations, cases and deaths has fallen and experts tell us that we should expect the next few weeks in the summertime … to be relatively good in terms of COVID-19," Duclos said.
But chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam continues to stress that even two doses of vaccine will not prevent an omicron infection.
Anita Huberman, president and chief executive operator of the Surrey Board of Trade, told Vancouver Is Awesome that the travel restrictions had a devastating impact on the tourism and hospitality sectors, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses.
"It's time to say to the world that Canada is open is open for international travel," she said in a phone interview. "We do need to alleviate those measures regarding vaccination [and] remove restrictions."
The public health measures were causing considerable harm to the hospitality and tourism sectors, as well as causing confusion and frustration for travellers, Huberman added.
"So now is the time to really reopen the economy and to ensure that this fall and winter the economy stays open," she said.
"We cannot afford another shutdown."
Vancouverites react to federal vaccine announcement
Many locals fear that the relaxed rules will usher in another wave of coronavirus infectious, just as case numbers started to decline across Canada. Some of them point out that flu season is mere months away, which could cause a surge in numbers.
People who are not vaccinated are happy to be able to travel by air again, while others are simply happy to see the economy have a chance to recover.
Have a look at what some residents of the Lower Mainland had to say following the announcement.
Not true, polls show vaccine passports and masks still have support. Its probably true most are done with lockdowns but sometimes in life you have to make sacrifices for greater good.— Miles Lunn 🇨🇦🇺🇦 (@mileslunn) June 14, 2022
England and 54 other nations will let me arrive without a vaccine passport. It was Canada who forbid it’s unvaccinated citizens from boarding a domestic or international flight. Today our government finally changed policy.— Lori Ann Lothian (@LoriAnnLothian) June 14, 2022
😂😂😂😂😂 and you wonder why #CovidIsNotOver— Global Cooperation #VaccineEquity (@TheShoeLady33) June 14, 2022
Sadly now that you’re allowing unvaccinated people on trains and planes this is going to lead to more disruptions when they refuse to mask up. I’m all for keeping the mask mandate, but I would have also kept the proof of vaccination mandate as well.— Chris 🇺🇦 (@ChrisKFilms) June 14, 2022
Unfortunate. An indirect upside of the vaccine mandate for air travel was that it filtered out the most selfish and entitled of the crybabies.— Jeff Chan (@ApostropheJeff) June 14, 2022
With files from The Canadian Press.