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Trudeau won't rule out vaccine certificates for international travellers

PM won't offer timeline on when such a decision might be made
vancouver airport
Vancouver International Airport. Canada’s borders have been under significant restrictions for the past 13 months.

As the European Union paves the way for bringing in fully vaccinated Americans travellers by the summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is “working on” a plan to facilitate international travel.

“Pre-pandemic, certificates of vaccination were a part of international travel to certain regions and are naturally to be expected when it comes to this pandemic,” the prime minister said during a Tuesday briefing.

“How we actually roll that out in alignment with partners and our allies around the world is something that we're working on right now to co-ordinate. I can assure you that our decisions will be based on science, and the fact that those decisions are ongoing and those discussions are ongoing right now means that we will be aligned with our partners around the world.”

Trudeau would not specifically rule out the idea of deploying vaccine certificates as a means of managing international travel moving forward and did not offer a timeline on when such certificates might be required.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said the country is also grappling with questions over whether it might accept tourists who can show proof of being fully vaccinated, but with a vaccine not approved for use in Canada.

Canada’s borders have been under significant restrictions for the past 13 months, essentially cratering much of the nation’s tourism and hospitality industry.

Dispensation has been given to international visitors arriving in Canada for essential travel, as well as new immigrants and Canadians returning home from trips overseas.

But those arriving in Canada — even those who may have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — are required to take a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test at the airport to determine if they have the novel coronavirus.

Those travellers are then required to wait at an approved hotel for up to three days at their own expense as they await test results.

Those who test negative will be able to quarantine at home, while those international travellers who test positive will be sent to a designated government facility to quarantine.

Meanwhile, the federal government suspended passenger flights from India and Pakistan last week amid surging cases of COVID-19 in those two neighbouring countries.

Those travellers taking indirect routes into Canada will need to obtain a COVID-19 pre-departure test from the last country they travelled through before arriving.