Canada dropping all remaining COVID border, travel measures as of Oct. 1

The Canadian government announces that all remaining COVID-19 border and travel restrictions will be dropped at the end of the month. This includes vaccination status and the use of ArriveCAN.

Canada’s remaining COVID-19 travel measures, including the use of the ArriveCAN app at the border, are being dropped as of Oct. 1.

Federal ministers made the announcement to end the measures in a news conference on Monday morning, confirming the cabinet order maintaining the border measures will not be renewed when it expires on Sept. 30.

“Right now, the numbers and the recommendations of experts clearly said the border measures are no longer necessary,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a separate news conference later in the day. “As the situation changes, we will continue to monitor closely.”

The lifting measures include border vaccine mandates, mandatory masking on planes and trains, and testing and quarantine for international travellers.

The feds say the current vaccination rates and the overall COVID situation across the country has allowed them to make the change back to pre-pandemic normals. This includes COVID modelling that the government says “indicates that Canada has largely passed the peak of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 fuelled wave.”

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos warns the pandemic is not over yet but says the import of cases into the country is minor even when considering a projected fall wave of the virus.

“What explains COVID-19 now, and what will explain COVID-19 in the next few weeks, is a domestic situation,” Duclos says. “That’s where we need to focus our efforts.”

He adds the federal government still has the option to bring some restrictions back if necessary.

The changes on Saturday will mean foreign nationals no longer need an approved series of vaccinations to enter the country. It also means Canada-bound travellers will no longer be subject to random mandatory COVID-19 tests.

The requirement for unvaccinated Canadians to isolate when they return to the country and the mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app will also end with the expired order. The app will still exist and will remain an option for those looking to speed up their customs clearance.

All travellers are still “strongly recommended” to wear high-quality and well-fitted masks while travelling on planes or trains, the government says.

Poilievre takes credit for changes to border measures

New Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre tweeted following Monday’s announcement, claiming the Trudeau government was forced to act because of outside pressure from his party and from Canadians.

“Liberals finally back down on the disastrous ArriveCAN app, unscientific vaccine mandates, and forced mask-wearing,” reads the tweet. “None of the science changes Oct. 1, but because of you, Trudeau has to.”

Along with many Conservative MPs, members of the Canadian tourism industry have been continually calling for the border measures to be lifted.

A recent report from several Canadian doctors, prepared by the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, claims many of the remaining border measures were not effective at protecting Canadians.

Dr. David Carr, an emergency room physician with the University Health Network, said early in the pandemic, travel measures worked to flatten the curve along with domestic lockdowns. But they failed to stop variants from entering Canada and are no longer effective now that Omicron is being widely spread.

“Border restrictions are not necessary for a society as highly vaccinated and has access to readily available treatments,” said Carr. “Studies have shown that these restrictions have failed to prevent these variants of concern from entering prospective countries and may have only delayed the peak of the wave by about three to four days.”

As of now, Canadians looking to travel to the U.S. still need to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination status prior to entering the country. There is no word yet on whether the White House will follow suit and move to scrap its remaining travel measures.

The feds in Canada last extended public health measures at borders on June 29. On June 20, COVID-19 vaccine mandates for domestic travel on planes and trains and outbound international travellers were suspended.

The Canadian government has also since lifted COVID-19 vaccine mandates for federally regulated workers, including those in public service, the RCMP, and transport workers, including truckers.

With files from Cormac Mac Sweeney and The Canadian Press

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