The Ottawa government has said it will drop vaccine requirements for federal workers and domestic travelers
Canada is set to lift a series of vaccination mandates for travelers and government workers, reversing the course of controversial policies that sparked mass protests across the country earlier this year.
Mandates will be phased out on June 20, meaning unvaccinated federal personnel and some transportation workers will be able to return to work, while Canadians traveling domestically will no longer have to show proof of vaccination, the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc to reporters.
“Today’s announcement is possible because Canadians have come together to protect each other,” said LeBlanc. “We are now in a position to adjust our policy as we have always followed the best advice from public health authorities.”
Although vaccination rules for trains and domestic airlines no longer apply from next Monday, they will remain on cruise ships. Foreigners arriving in Canada will also need to present proof of vaccination and returning citizens must quarantine. Those using federally regulated public transportation, meanwhile, will be required to wear masks, according to Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra.
LeBlanc went on to warn that the warrants could be revived if Canada faces another surge of Covid-19, saying “If the situation worsens, we are prepared to reinstate the policies necessary to protect Canadians. »
“We have no regrets at all about being cautious in the face of a virus that has tragically killed tens of thousands of Canadians and millions of people around the world,” He continued.
First introduced last October, the vaccine requirements proved unpopular with a large segment of citizens and sparked a vociferous wave of protests last winter, during which convoys of long-haul truckers organized blockades at border crossings and in Ottawa itself.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has drawn much of the criticism over the mandates, has responded harshly to the protests, invoking emergency powers to quell protests while accusing organizers of seeking to overthrow the government.
Covid-19 policies have also come under fire from Trudeau’s conservative critics, as well as members of his own Liberal Party, with a backbench lawmaker accusing the prime minister of having “politicization of the pandemic” in February, what he said “risks undermining public confidence in our public health institutions.”
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In addition to dropping vaccine rules, the federal government announced last week that it would suspend random coronavirus testing at Canadian airports. While he noted that testing would resume on July 1, it will be done “offsite” after that date, allowing airports to dismantle dedicated testing facilities taking up space in common areas.
“It will make airports move faster. Airports are not designed to be mini health care centers and so this will help staff, it will help reduce traffic jams,” Tourism Minister Randy Boissonault announced the decision. “It’s a good step in the right direction.”