With the holiday travel season nearing, Canadian officials announced several measures on Friday meant to standardize international travel and make it easier for Canadians taking short trips to re-enter the country.
Travelers who are fully vaccinated with the shots from Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin will be allowed to enter Canada starting Nov. 30, opening the door wider to people from countries like India, Brazil and China, where those vaccines are more frequently administered.
Currently, Canada only accepts travelers who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the four shots approved in the country. The expanded list will align with the vaccines cleared for use by the World Health Organization.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said that the case rates associated with each of the vaccines were about the same.
“All that is very reassuring,” Dr. Tam said. She added that although Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin “are not authorized in Canada, because they’ve gone through the W.H.O. process in terms of evaluation of safety, of efficacy and of quality, we’ve taken that into account as we increase the list of vaccines for Canadian border measures.”
Additionally, people leaving Canada by land or by air for less than 72 hours will no longer be required to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test to re-enter the country. The price and processing time of P.C.R. tests — which can cost more than $100 and take longer than a day for results — were widely seen as deterrents to travel.
This change applies only to Canadians, permanent residents and Indigenous people registered under the Indian Act. It also takes effect Nov. 30.
The government will take a firm stance against unvaccinated travelers entering and leaving the country beginning on that date as well, with “very few exemptions,” said Omar Alghabra, Canada’s transport minister. He added that only fully vaccinated travelers would be able to fly from a Canadian airport or board a Via Rail or Rocky Mountaineer train.
Starting Jan. 15, Canada will also phase out most previously granted travel exemptions for those who are unvaccinated. This will affect professional and amateur athletes, foreign students, truck drivers and other essential workers who cross the border, and adults over 18 traveling to reunite with a family member.
Other categories of unvaccinated or partly vaccinated travelers — such as refugees, marine crews and agricultural workers — will be able to enter only with limited approval.
Read More: Canada Expands Vaccines Accepted for Travel