The Canadian government within the next few months will require all commercial air travelers to be vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the government's Treasury Board.
In addition to air travelers, the requirement will extend to rail passengers traveling between Canadian provinces and cruise ship passengers. All employees in the federally regulated air, rail and marine transportations must be vaccinated as well.
Those requirements will come "as soon as possible in the fall and no later than the end of October," according to the announcement.
"The government will engage with key stakeholders, including bargaining agents and transportation sector operators, as we plan for the implementation of these initiatives," according to the Treasury Board.
"Details will be communicated as the work unfolds. The process will include determining how this requirement will be implemented, through confirmation of Covid-19 vaccination and other means of protection, such as testing when necessary."
In a statement, the WestJet Group said it "welcomed" the news that would require vaccinations for airline employees. WestJet executive vice president of people and culture Mark Porter said the group is "working diligently to implement the government's policy."
For travelers, however, the group said it "is advocating that rapid-antigen testing is an acceptable, accessible and affordable alternative for unvaccinated travelers."
Air Canada in a statement called the announcement "a welcome step forward" and said it would work with the government and its unions to implement the requirements.
The carrier also urged the government to adopt measures suggested by a Covid-19 testing and screening expert advisory panel earlier this year, including eliminating pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated passengers and to allow self-administered rapid antigen tests in lieu of the pricier, slower PCR testing.
The board's announcement was part of a broader announcement on Friday that all government employees will need to be vaccinated "as early as the end of September." The government also will be working with other federally regulated employers to implement vaccine requirements, according to the statement.
"Driving vaccine uptake in Canada to as high a level as possible is one of the most effective, and least disruptive, means at our disposal to sustain the gains we have made in recent months and ensure that we continue on our path to economic recovery, and a healthier and more equitable future," according to Treasury Board president Jean-Yves Duclos.
The requirements will allow "alternative measures such as testing and screening" on a case-by-case basis for those who are unable to be vaccinated, according to the announcement.
As of Friday, more than 71% of eligible Canadians were fully vaccinated, and more than 82% had received at least one dose of a vaccine, the board reported. That leaves about 6 million eligible people in the country unvaccinated.
The United States reportedly is considering a vaccine requirement for international travelers as well.
Source: Business Travel News