Canada drops vaccine, mask mandates for travel

ArriveCAN app is no longer required, but travellers have the option of using app's optional Advance Declaration feature to save time at the airport

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Canada will no longer require travellers to show proof of coronavirus vaccination upon entry to the country or enter their information into the ArriveCAN app. 

The federal government has gradually scaled back COVID-19 travel restrictions over the course of the spring and summer, as booster shots became more widely available in Canada.

The current order will expire on Friday, Sept. 30.

Travellers who entered Canada in the 14 days prior to Oct. 1 will not be required to complete the remainder of their quarantine or isolation, or complete their testing requirements.

2022 revised Canada travel requirements 

The change means international travellers will no longer have to prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Additionally, Canada will no longer randomly select air passengers for its off-site testing program. 

Previously, unvaccinated Canadians had to show a negative COVID-19 test result before arriving, and undergo further testing after arrival. They also had to quarantine for 14 days. Unvaccinated foreigners were not permitted to enter the country. 

The order's expiration also means that the minister of health may no longer quickly ban citizens of specific countries facing COVID-19 outbreaks from coming to Canada.

Transport Canada is also removing its existing travel requirements. As a result, passengers are no longer required to wear masks on domestic and international trains and planes. However, the government strongly recommends travellers wear them throughout the duration of their journey. 

The department will no longer conduct health checks on air or rail passengers, either. 

ArriveCAN is no longer required, but optional 

The ArriveCAN app, which launched in April 2020, is no longer required but travellers still have the option of using it. They may wish to use the app's optional Advance Declaration feature to save time at the airport by submitting their customs and immigration declaration in advance of arrival at select Canadian airports.

This feature is currently available to travellers arriving at Toronto Pearson (YYZ), Vancouver (YVR), or Montréal-Trudeau (YUL) international airports and will expand to Calgary (YYC), Edmonton (YEG), Winnipeg (YWG), Billy Bishop Toronto City (YTZ), Ottawa (YOW), Québec City, and Halifax (YHZ) international airports in the coming months.

According to the Border Services Agency (CBSA), early data shows that using this feature "cuts the amount of time a traveller spends at a kiosk by roughly one-third, and over 30 [per cent] of travellers arriving at the airports are already using it."

The app has served as a tool for the federal government to screen travellers entering Canada for coronavirus as well as to ensure that they had suitable quarantine plans.

Once COVID-19 vaccination was required for travel, the app carried traveller vaccine information, too. 

Cruise travel requirements have been updated

Cruise measures are also being lifted, and travellers will no longer be required to have pre-board tests, be vaccinated, or use ArriveCAN.

A set of guidelines will remain to protect passengers and crew, which will align with the approach used in the United States.

Travellers should never travel if they feel ill 

While the vaccine mandate has been lifted, Canadian travellers are reminded that they shouldn't travel if they have COVID-19 symptoms. 

If travellers become sick while travelling, and are still sick when they arrive in Canada, they should inform a flight attendant, cruise staff, or a border services officer upon arrival. They may then be referred to a quarantine officer who will decide whether the traveller needs further medical assessment.

With files from the Canadian Press

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