Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement for domestic and outbound travelers, as well as federal bureaucrats and transportation workers, will be suspended starting next week, officials said Tuesday.
Masking, however, will still be required on planes and trains.
“I’m pleased to announce that on June 20 our government will suspend the requirement to be vaccinated in order to board a plane or train in Canada,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra told a news conference.
He cited a high rate of inoculations and a falling number of Covid cases and hospitalizations across the country. The move also comes as most other pandemic restrictions have been lifted.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc added that this will not, however, immediately ease a logjam at Canadian airports.
That problem, along with delays in the issuing of passports, sparked a public outcry in recent weeks, as more and more Canadians seek to take trips after more than two years of pandemic restrictions and lockdowns.
The mandatory vaccine policy for travelers was rolled out last October, and Alghabra warned it could be reimposed in the fall if Covid-19 cases jump back up.
“Our government will always continue to evaluate measures and will not hesitate to make additional adjustments based on the latest public health advice and science,” he said.
Travelers entering Canada, meanwhile, must continue to show proof of vaccination. Those departing the country will no longer need to do so.
Alghabra noted that the United States, a popular destination for Canadians, still requires proof of vaccination for those arriving from abroad.
In a statement, the Canadian government said it was maintaining the requirement for inbound travelers to be vaccinated because “vaccination rates and virus control in other countries varies significantly” and it will “serve as added protection against any future variant.”
More than 90 percent of Canadians have received two Covid vaccine doses, while about half have also received a booster, according to government figures.