Federal Liberal cabinet weighing whether to lift remaining COVID-19 travel measures


OTTAWA – The federal Liberal cabinet is considering whether to renew COVID-19 vaccine mandates and mandatory random testing for travellers.

The current measures are set to expireon Sept. 30.

A senior government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters not made public says no decision has been made.

Under the soon-to-expire rules, foreign nationals are typically not allowed to travel to Canada unless they have completed a primary series of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, unless they qualify for an exception.

Unvaccinated travellers who are allowed to enter Canada are subject to mandatory arrival tests and a 14-day quarantine.

Vaccinated travellers may also be selected for mandatory random testing — a system that public health officials have used as an “early warning system” for new variants of the virus entering the country.

The government contracted companies to run off-site test clinics in an attempt to alleviate congestion at Canada’s international airports.

The federal government has gradually scaled back COVID-19 travel restrictions over the course of the spring and summer, as booster shots became more widely available in Canada.

Cabinet “suspended” vaccine mandates for domestic travel in June, but Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc warned at the time COVID-19 vaccinations could become a requirement again if cases surged in the fall.

Public health officials and infectious disease experts have warned of a potentially large wave of new COVID-19 cases this month as students return to school.

But the Public Health Agency of Canada has also said the country is transitioning to a new, more sustainable phase of the pandemic.

The decision to renew the current restrictions or let them expire will be approved by federal cabinet ministers who are expected to meet in Ottawa early next week.