The Federal Government announced yesterday (October 6, 2021) that all travellers must be fully vaccinated by October 30, 2021 before boarding planes, trains or marine vessels.
Who needs to be fully vaccinated?
All travellers include people who are aged 12 and older. The vaccination rule (fully vaccinated) applies to passengers:
- Boarding flights leaving Canadian airports (including all domestic, trans-border or international flights)
- Boarding VIA Rail and/or Rocky Mountaineer trains
- Boarding non-essential passenger vessels (e.g. cruise ships) on voyages that last more than 24 hours
As you can see, this is a very broad definition of traveller.
There will be very few exceptions granted for medical reasons or emergency travel. However, I would expect a long process to get approval.
Furthermore, there will be a transition period for travellers who are in the process of being vaccinated. They will be permitted to show a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel. So the hard deadline is really November 30, 2021.
A loophole that I do see in this, is that international travellers can cross the United States border by land and then figure out alternative means of transportation from there. Otherwise, I am expecting to see a lot more cars on the road to get around the country.
Enforcement & Penalties
It will be up to the air, marine and rail operators to figure out a way to verify proof of vaccine status, with Transport Canada overseeing compliance.
If any information was falsified or if the person fails to comply, the consequences can include:
- Fines of up to $250,000 per rail violation, per day, to railway companies under the Railway Safety Act
- Fines of up to $25,000 per violation to air operators under the Aeronautics Act
- Fines of up to $5,000 per air violation to individuals (either travellers or employees) under the Aeronautics Act
- Fines of up to $250,000 per marine violation, per day to employees and travellers for non-compliance with the obligation to provide proof of vaccination
- Fines of up to $250,000 per violation, per day, to marine operators for non-compliance under the Interim Order made pursuant to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001
There will be those who feel like their freedom of choice is being restricted. But there will be those who want this to be sped up so that we can get back to more “normalised” travelling. Personally I have been torn about this topic for a while now. Striking a balance between the “right to choose”, versus taking it for the greater good?
Either way, the way I see it is, whether I agree or not with these measures, the government is pressing ahead in taking a strong stance on getting people vaccinated. So if this is going to affect your travel, I strongly recommend that you plan accordingly as fines (for non-compliance) or being held up at the gates (for not having paperwork in order) can get really frustrating.
More importantly, what are your thoughts on this matter? Please let us know in the comment section below!