Canada air and rail passengers will soon need to be fully vaccinated in order to travel

Shelby Thevenot
Published: October 6, 2021

The Canadian government will soon require travellers to be fully vaccinated in order to travel from Canadian airports and on trains.

The first phase of the new measures will begin on October 30, according to the Canadian government. All travellers age 12 and up who are taking federally-regulated modes of transportation will have to be vaccinated in order to board.

That includes all domestic and international flights departing from Canadian airports, rail passengers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, and marine passengers on cruise ships that go on voyages of 24 hours or more.

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There will be a 30-day transition period for travellers who are in the process of getting vaccinated. Unvaccinated travellers may be able to board if they show a valid COVID-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours of departure. By November 30, however, all travellers must be fully vaccinated. The only exceptions may be for emergency travel, and those who are medically unable to be vaccinated.

The new mandate will also include other accommodations for travellers from remote communities to ensure they will still be able to travel for essential services. More details on this will be released in the coming days.

The measures will also extend to employees in the transportation sector. All employers in the federally-regulated air, rail and marine transportation sectors need vaccination policies for their organizations as of October 30. The policy applies to airlines, airports including concession and hospitality workers, railways, rail crew, track employees, and marine operators with Canadian vessels that have a crew of 12 or more. Employees who do not get fully vaccinated will be unable to work.

Transport Canada will enforce the new measures through inspections. Employers in the transportation sector who fail to comply could face fines between $5,000 and $250,000 per violation.

The federal government is currently developing a pan-Canadian proof of vaccination in conjunction with the provinces and territories. The document is expected to become available in digital formats, though there is currently no timeline available.

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