Canada, which has slowly scaled back travel restrictions as the number of coronavirus cases has continued to fall, will suspend another mandate. Starting June 20, people traveling domestically and federal transport workers will no longer have to show proof of vaccination, officials said Tuesday, citing in large part the country’s high vaccination rate.
“It’s clear that the COVID situation is not the same now as it was last fall when we implemented the vaccine mandate,” Omar Alghabra, the country’s minister of transport, said during a news briefing Tuesday. “This is thanks to the millions of Canadians who rolled up their sleeves and got vaccinated.”
The announcement was also made in a 37-second video that featured dance music and promised that the change would “make it easier for Canadians to travel within Canada.”
Canada has kept many of its travel-related mandates as the United States has shed restrictions like mask requirements on flights, trains and buses. Earlier this month, the Biden administration said it would no longer require international travelers coming into the United States to show a negative coronavirus test result.
But Canada has loosened some restrictions in recent months. In April, the country stopped requiring that vaccinated travelers show proof of a recent negative test to enter Canada.
Still, all travelers must continue to wear masks on federally regulated airplanes and trains, Alghabra said Tuesday.
And vaccination requirements will remain in place for travelers and crew members on cruises, he said.
“This decision is based on the unique nature of cruise ship travel, including the fact that passengers are in close contact with each other for extended periods of time,” Alghabra said.
For visitors coming into Canada, “there are no changes” to the vaccination requirement, he said.
“All travelers entering Canada must continue to follow all entry requirements, including vaccination,” Alghabra said.
New virus cases in Canada have been declining steadily since late April. In the past two weeks, new cases dropped by 12% while deaths decreased by 25%, according to data tracked by The New York Times.
Eighty-four percent of Canadians have been fully vaccinated and nearly 60% have received a booster shot, compared with 67% of people in the United States who have been fully vaccinated and 31% who have received a booster.
Like the rest of the world, Canada was hit hard by the omicron variant. It reported about 40,000 cases a day during the omicron peak in January 2022.
In the past week, however, the country reported an average of 2,362 new cases per day.