Advertisement

Canada has dropped COVID-19 travel restrictions, mask mandates

Click to play video: 'Canada to end border COVID-19 vaccine rules, mandates on masks and ArriveCAN'
Canada to end border COVID-19 vaccine rules, mandates on masks and ArriveCAN
The federal government has officially announced it will drop masking rules and COVID-19 vaccine requirements for travellers, including the mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app, starting October 1. David Akin explains what medical experts say about the risk of catching COVID-19 while on an airplane – Sep 26, 2022

Travel restrictions tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, including mask mandates, came to an end on Saturday as the last remaining border measures officially ceased to be in effect.

And some travellers say they’re meeting the changes with mixed feelings of relief and concern as they look toward an uncertain winter and signs that case counts are on the rise.

Read more: ArriveCAN, mask mandates among changes as Canada drops COVID-19 border rules

Federal officials announced earlier this week that a cabinet order affecting mandatory vaccinations, testing and quarantine of international travellers would not be renewed as the new month began.

That means travellers to Canada no longer need to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19, while wearing a mask on planes and trains is now optional.

Story continues below advertisement

British Columbia residents Joanne and Ted Parker say they would have preferred to see the rules stay in place for masks, which are still recommended.

“I think they’re an excellent protection,” Joanne Parker said while waiting at Pearson International Airport, just west of Toronto.

“And if one person wears them it’s not that helpful, but if everybody wears them it’s really helpful.”

Click to play video: 'Economy hoping for a boost after vaccine mandate to be dropped at border'
Economy hoping for a boost after vaccine mandate to be dropped at border

But she said she’s already come to terms with the likelihood that mask rules are gone for good.

Earlier this week, when the couple flew into Pearson, they noticed some people were flouting the restrictions days before they were lifted, including one fellow passenger who she said ignored a flight attendant’s request to keep their mask on.

“I didn’t like it, but I wasn’t going to say anything because I thought at the end of the week it’s going to be OK anyway,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Ted Parker suggested there were “plusses and minuses” to lifting the final COVID-19 travel restrictions. He hopes one of the upsides will be fewer airport delays as people entering Canada no longer need to fill out the ArriveCan app and are no longer subject to random mandatory tests for the disease.

“When you just look around, just casual observation says people are not wearing masks,” he said, adding he remains concerned about new variants of COVID-19.

“After two and a half years, I think people are tired of it. They want to get onto some semblance of normal.”

Read more: Canada dropping travel mask mandates draws ire: ‘Now is not the time’

Another traveller at Pearson said her biggest concern wasn’t the change in masking rules or the elimination of random mandatory tests for the virus, but rather the stories she’s heard of people losing their luggage for days.

That’s why Mary Bertani packed a small carry on bag for her flight to New York instead of her usual checked luggage.

“I thought, ‘I’m not letting go of my stuff,'” said the Pickering, Ont., resident.

As for COVID-19 precautions, she said she was not concerned for herself, noting she planned to wear a mask and had been vaccinated against the virus.

Story continues below advertisement

In announcing the end of the restrictions, federal ministers said the latest wave of COVID-19 has largely passed and travel-related cases aren’t having a major impact.

But Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos warned restrictions could be brought back again if they are needed.

Click to play video: 'What the lifting of COVID rules will mean for the winter travel season'
What the lifting of COVID rules will mean for the winter travel season

People coming to Canada who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 will no longer need to isolate upon arrival, and anyone who entered the country in the last two weeks and was subject to quarantine or testing was off the hook on Saturday.

Inbound travellers do not need to fill out the controversial ArriveCan app, although they can still use it to fill out their customs declarations at certain airports.

Brian Feeney flew into Toronto from Boston on Saturday morning and estimated about half the passengers on his flight were masked.

Story continues below advertisement

He chose to stay masked on the flight because he was seated close to people, he said, though he doffed the mask once he reached the airport.

“I think it’s a pretty good thing the rules are changing,” he said.

“It’s somebody’s choice whether they wear a mask or not.”

Sponsored content