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Trudeau supports lifting some COVID travel rules: source CP


OTTAWA-

The last of Canada’s COVID-19 border restrictions will disappear at the end of this month with the expiration of a Cabinet Order regarding mandatory vaccinations, testing and quarantine of international travelers.

The expiration also marks the end of travelers’ insistence on using the ArriveCan app to enter their vaccination status and test results, although the app will remain an optional tool for customs and immigration.

It does not yet address the issue of whether passengers should wear masks on domestic and international trains and planes, as this rule is contained in a separate order issued by the Minister for Transport.

Two senior government sources familiar with the decision have confirmed that the Cabinet Order maintaining COVID-19 border measures will not be renewed when it expires on September 30.

The sources spoke to The Canadian Press on the condition that they not be named as they were not authorized to speak publicly. Although the Liberal cabinet met on Thursday afternoon, cabinet approval is not required to allow the order to expire.

One of the sources said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, before the cabinet meeting was held, approved the decision not to renew the rules.

The change means that international travelers will no longer have to prove that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Under the current rule, returning Canadians who are not vaccinated must present a negative COVID-19 test result before arrival and undergo further testing after arrival. They must also be quarantined for 14 days.

Foreigners who are not vaccinated are simply banned from Canada unless they fall into specific categories, such as airline or ship crew members, those in need of essential medical care, diplomats and workers. temporary aliens.

The cabinet order also specifies that vaccinated travelers will be screened for random COVID-19 testing and requires travelers to submit proof of vaccine and test results electronically.

The only way to do this is through the ArriveCan app.

All of this will end when the clock strikes midnight on October 1st.

Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault did not confirm the decision Thursday afternoon, but he said if the order was allowed to expire, it would also eliminate the only mandatory component of the ArriveCan app.

“So the mandatory piece is the vaccine piece, and because that’s how people prove it through ArriveCan, that’s how the order is written, from what I remember,” he said. he said on his way to the cabinet meeting.

ArriveCan has evolved into a digitized border arrival tool, and now people flying into select airports can use it to complete their customs and immigration form instead of the paper version.

Boissonnault said this is in line with the digitization of border forms in a number of countries, including Europe, and in the long term will enable faster and smoother border experiences.

“If we’re going to go from 22 million visitors in 2019 to something closer to 30 million by 2030, we’re going to have to have a digital frontier,” he said.

The expiry of the order also means that the Minister of Health will no longer be able to quickly ban citizens of specific countries facing outbreaks of COVID-19 from coming to Canada. This measure has been used to ban people from India and some African countries at various times, measures criticized by some as racist.

Canada’s border measures related to COVID-19 have evolved since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

For more than a year, Canada has invoked a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all returning Canadians, and for some time quarantine has been required in whole or in part at specific hotels.

Between March 2020 and August 2021, foreign nationals could not enter Canada during the period with certain exemptions for essential workers, including airline crews, healthcare workers and truck drivers.

In July 2021, once all Canadian adults and adolescents were able to access vaccines, the government stopped requiring quarantine for fully vaccinated Canadian travellers.

In August 2021 they opened the border to fully vaccinated Americans, and in September 2021 the border was opened to fully vaccinated citizens of all countries.

The border measures have become heavily politicized, with the Conservatives demanding that Trudeau lift them all, and Leader Pierre Poilievre has made their removal a key policy in his recent leadership campaign.

Deputy Conservative Party Leader Melissa Lantsman and the party’s Quebec lieutenant Pierre Paul-Hus said in a joint statement Wednesday that it was convenient to end the measures within weeks of Poilievre’s arrival at the direction.

“Since its introduction, the ArriveCan app has killed jobs, stifled economies across the country and told visitors they are not welcome in Canada,” they said. “In addition to unscientific vaccination mandates and mandatory random testing, ArriveCan has created the longest delays ever seen at airports across Canada.”

Delays at airports were partly blamed on ArriveCan, as some travelers who had trouble getting it to work, or couldn’t or didn’t want to use it, queued up. However, the delays have also been blamed on labor shortages affecting everything from airport workers to border and security guards.

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist, has been advocating for months against compulsory vaccinations and testing at the border. In an interview Thursday, he said testing asymptomatic travelers at the border was expensive and not as helpful as testing symptomatic people in the community.

He said without testing everyone, the policy will not prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The government has long pointed to random testing as a way to screen for new variants arriving, but Chagla said there are also better and more practical ways to look for them as well.


This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 22, 2022.

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