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Canada drops coronavirus rules for travelers

Vaccine and mask requirements are going away starting Oct. 1

(iStock/Washington Post Illustration)

Traveling to Canada is about to get a lot easier.

Starting Oct. 1, the country is dropping all coronavirus entry and travel restrictions. That means visitors will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination, get tested, submit health information through an official online site, report symptoms, isolate or quarantine, or wear a mask on planes or trains.

Rules for cruise travelers are also being lifted, meaning passengers won’t need to test negative before boarding a ship, be vaccinated or use the online public health reporting system.

Public health authorities said several factors led to the end of pandemic-era rules, including high vaccination rates; low hospitalization and death rates; new vaccine boosters; and models that indicate the country has passed the peak of infections from the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

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“Since the start, our Government has taken the necessary steps to keep Canadians safe in the face of a global pandemic,” Marco Mendicino, minister of public safety, said in a statement. “COVID-19 border measures were always meant to be temporary and we are making adjustments based on the current situation because that’s what Canadians expect.”

The country stopped requiring vaccinated travelers to show proof of a negative test in April, but kept the vaccine mandate in place. Visitors could still be selected for testing upon arrival.

Canada follows countries around the world that have ended border restrictions. In Europe, for example, destinations including France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Germany dropped entry rules earlier this year.

The United States still requires international tourists to be vaccinated.

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Canada had a record year for international tourism in 2019, with about 22 million visitors. That number dropped to 3.1 million last year, when the borders were closed until late summer.

Officials still recommend that travelers wear high-quality masks and forgo travel if they have coronavirus symptoms. People who do arrive sick in Canada should tell someone like a flight attendant, cruise line employee or border officer, the government said. They could be “referred to a quarantine officer who will decide whether the traveller needs further medical assessment,” the official statement said.

Under earlier quarantine rules, border agents and public health officials are able to screen people “and advise them on the right things to do” if they are infected with coronavirus or other diseases.

“If people enter Canada and find out that they have been infected with covid-19, then they will need to follow local public health measures,” health minister Jean-Yves Duclos said at a news conference Monday.