For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, border restrictions for all travellers entering Canada will be lifted. As of October 1st, a cabinet committee order regarding mandatory vaccinations and the testing and quarantining of international travellers will expire. This will also end the mandatory use of the ArriveCan mobile app, which was used by Canadian customs and immigration to track vaccine status and test results.
The change comes in the wake of United States President Joe Biden recently stating that “the pandemic is over” in an interview with CBS’s 60 minutes. A sentiment that was recently echoed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s actions following a September 22 Liberal Cabinet meeting. Two senior government sources told the Canadian Press that the Prime Minister signed off on the decision not to renew the restrictions through October.
Border restrictions have been a hot button topic amongst Canadians since the government implemented the first measures in March 2020. As it currently stands under the cabinet committee order, unvaccinated Canadians are required to produce a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country and another after they have arrived and quarantined for 14 days. International travellers are not permitted to enter Canada unless they provide proof of full vaccination or belong to one of the categories of exemption. Airline crews, diplomats, temporary workers or those who need medical treatment are among those exempt. Vaccinated travellers may be subjected to random COVID-19 testing and are required to use the ArriveCan app to submit their vaccine proof and lab tests digitally.
ArriveCan has been criticised and often blamed for the recent trend of flight delays and cancellations at Canadian airports. Airlines state that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a labour shortage in customs, immigration and security, meaning the ArriveCan app should not have to shoulder the full blame for the delays. Airline customers however have been struggling to get the application to work or simply refusing to use it, only further compounding the delays and lines. ArriveCan will not be fully phased out however, as it is being transitioned into what Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault calls a digitised border arrival tool.
“If we’re going to want to go from 22 million visitors in 2019, to something closer to 30 million in 2030, we’re going to have to have a digital border.” Boissonnault said.
The app will allow travellers to submit their customs and immigrations forms digitally before arriving at the airport, expediting the process of entering Canada.
The Government of Canada has released today that Transport Canada will also be removing all existing travel requirements. Canadians will no longer be required to wear a mask or undergo health checks for domestic air and rail travel.
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