As countries all around the world ease travel restrictions in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, Canada has recently joined the bunch, much to the delight of those traveling with young children. However, while the country continues to ease restrictions, case counts are rising as Canada fends off the sixth wave of the pandemic.
According to the Associated Press, government officials announced last week that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children from ages 5–11 traveling with a fully vaccinated adult will no longer need proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter Canada.
Children above the age of 12, however, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, are still required to show a pre-entry test.
While the lifting of this restriction directly benefits children in that specific age range, Canada has eased other restrictions that benefit travelers of all ages.
Canada Dropping Some Travel Restrictions, Keeping Others
Aside from easing Canada’s entry requirements, the country has also dropped measures allowing travelers to be less cautious when monitoring COVID-19 while in Canada.
Travelers are no longer required to quarantine when they come in contact with COVID-19 or if someone in their group develops symptoms. Travelers are also no longer required to keep track of people they have been exposed to, nor will they have to report any COVID-19 symptoms. Finally, incoming travelers to Canada will no longer need to wear a mask in public spaces for their first 14 days upon arrival.
While the easing of restrictions all across Canada may also be easing travelers’ minds, there are a few restrictions in Canada remaining unchanged.
“All travelers are still required to use the ArriveCAN app to upload travel and vaccination information within 72 hours of their arrival to Canada and/or before boarding a plane or cruise ship destined for Canada,” according to the Associated Press.
Furthermore, Canada is doubling down on its mask mandate on public transportation, specifically planes and trains. “Although some restrictions may be easing, air and rail travelers are reminded that they are still required to wear a mask throughout their travel journey,” said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra in a release.
While Canada continues to ease travel requirements, cases are rising around the country thanks to an Omicron subvariant leading the sixth wave of this 2-plus year pandemic.
The Sixth Wave Of The Pandemic
Global News reported that the BA.2 Omicron subvariant has led a resurgence of COVID-19 throughout areas in Canada, causing case counts and hospitalizations to rise.
According to Global News’ Coronavirus Tracker, Canada currently records a daily average of 9,709 confirmed cases and 66 deaths. Furthermore, there’s a daily average of 6,412 people seeking hospital treatment and 456 patients in ICUs for COVID-19.
While these statistics may be daunting for some, Canadian officials aren’t concerned that this wave will be as detrimental as the previous five.
“Although concerning, the recent rise of hospitalization rates in several jurisdictions appears to be manageable, with critical care still trending at low levels,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, according to the CBC. “We remain hopeful that the increase in transmission rates over the last several weeks will not result in as heavy an impact on hospitalizations trends as seen during earlier waves.”
Canada’s Plans For The Future Of COVID-19
While COVID-19 continues to make its mark on society, Canadian officials are looking to the future, vowing to stick to the science.
“The health and safety of Canadians remains our top priority and as vaccination levels and health care system capacity improve, we will continue to consider further easing of measures at the borders based on science,” Canadian Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a release.
In Canada, 85.54 percent of people ages 5 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 49.6 percent of them are boosted as well.
For the future of the pandemic, Canadian officials are standing by the notion that vaccination remains the best protection against the virus and they have no plans to end vaccine mandates for travelers, according to the CBC.
They are also still encouraging all people to wear masks in public spaces.
“If you’re going to be traveling with people in a certain environment, I think it is prudent to continue to require wearing a mask,” said Dr. Tam. “So I think it’s one of the least intrusive measures, but adds, definitely, another layer of protection.”
See how other countries have been handling travel requirements: