The Canadian government has removed the need for a COVID-19 vaccination for domestic and outbound international travel. The move, which has been hailed as an important step for the travel industry, follows several easements that have been introduced around North America in the last weeks.
While the removal of a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for flights out of Canada and for domestic flights does not necessarily impact those sailing on a cruise, it will make travel much easier.
Canada Removes COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
Over the last weeks, several restrictions have been lifted throughout North America. First, the US government lifted testing requirements for inbound flights, and now Canada has removed the vaccine mandate for domestic and international outbound flights.
This means that unvaccinated Canadians can fly domestically and abroad as of June 20. The move, announced on Tuesday, follows months of intensifying pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to abandon Covid-19 public health restrictions.
The measures provide a significant stimulus to the tourism industry, which has been under heavy strain with over two-and-a-half years of lockdowns, restrictions, and setbacks.
“After two long, hard years, we are now focused on rebuilding tourism back to the economic powerhouse it was pre-pandemic. Today’s announcement by the federal government is another step in the right direction towards helping us achieve that goal,” said Beth Potter, President & CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
While many tourism operators will be rejoicing in the measures that have now been scaled back significantly, there is still no relief for the cruise industry. Cruise companies continue to operate under some of the strictest standards worldwide, despite haven proven time and time again that cruising is one of the safest options out there.
Beth Potter: “While this is good news for domestic and outbound travel, it does not address any of the current issues for inbound travellers or our cruise sector. I urge the federal government to now turn its attention to eliminating barriers to travel in these important areas and do so quickly so we can promote a resurgence in travel over the summer months.”
While the move is undoubtedly a step forward, it also further confuses the current measures.
Are More Changes Coming?
The question is how many changes can we expect to come on top of those that have already been implemented. Several stakeholders in the cruise industry, including the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), have called for an end to pre-cruise testing:
“As the CDC monitors the improving health landscape and works with airlines to support a smooth transition with the lifting of the pre-arrival testing requirement, we believe a review of pre-embarkation testing requirements for cruise travelers is also in order.”
While an end to a vaccine mandate onboard cruise has not been mentioned so far, an end to pre-cruise testing seems to be a real possibility, especially now one cruise line has already implemented this, and the requirement has also been dropped for international travel to the US by air.
Carrying on with an increasingly lopsided policy, both in Canada and the US, will not be beneficial for anyone. The cruise industry is the only tourism entity that is required to ask guests for negative COVID-19 tests and which carries vaccine mandates.
Although the health policies have been extremely helpful in getting the industry started, at this point, these policies are already outdated.