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Federal Government Is 'Looking At A Phased Approach' To Remove Vaccine Mandates & Mask Rules

The policies for travel and federal workplaces are currently being reviewed.

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​Vancouver International Airport. Right: VIA Rail train.

Vancouver International Airport. Right: VIA Rail train.

The federal government is "looking at a phased approach" for removing vaccine mandates and mask requirements that are part of Canada's travel restrictions and public health measures.

While giving an update on the COVID-19 situation in Canada on March 18, Dr. Theresa Tam spoke about federal pandemic-related public health rules as provinces lift all or most of their COVID-19 restrictions.

"I know that those policies are under evaluation or review," she said. "We're in a period of uncertainty where the virus is still undergoing evolution, so getting up to date with vaccines plus wearing a mask is still really a good idea."

When it comes to lifting some mandates, like masking on planes and trains or vaccine passports for international and domestic travel, Tam said that the federal government has taken a "precautionary" and "thoughtful" line of action during the pandemic.

So government officials are "looking at a phased approach of removing" some of the policies that are in place currently.

That includes vaccination requirements for federal workplaces along with mandatory masking and vaccination for travel.

"I know that these policies are being reviewed and reexamined as we speak," Tam said.

While reevaluation is underway for those measures, the federal government has already started to remove some restrictions for travellers at the border.

As of April 1, 2022, fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada won't have to show proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen pre-entry test anymore.

Despite the easing of the pre-entry testing measure, the federal health minister is reminding Canadians that travel restrictions could be put back into place as the COVID-19 situation changes in Canada and around the world.

"If we see that we need to adjust measures, we will obviously do that," Jean-Yves Duclos said.

Tam also said that more rules could come into effect depending on the COVID-19 situation, such as one requiring travellers to be fully vaccinated with three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

At the moment, the definition of "fully vaccinated" is still two doses.

"If there comes a time where a very severe variant is coming up and we know it's spreading, then border measures can always be reexamined from that perspective as well," Tam said.

She also noted that the ArriveCAN app travellers have to use to submit their vaccination information before coming into the country is important if a booster dose is added to what's considered fully vaccinated.

"Be ready to shift as needed," Tam said.

Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.

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