Health-care workers wait for airline passengers at a COVID-19 testing centre at Trudeau Airport in Montreal, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Health-care workers wait for airline passengers at a COVID-19 testing centre at Trudeau Airport in Montreal, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Travel quarantine rules set to ease for fully vaxed Canadians, permanent residents

Business groups welcomed the proposed change, still calling for a clear restart plan

Fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents who test negative for COVID-19 will likely soon be exempt from two weeks quarantine on return to Canada, the government announced Wednesday, as millions of doses of the Moderna vaccine were expected to arrive.

Starting early next month, the travellers who have received federally approved shots at least 14 days before entering the country will be able to skip staying in a government-approved quarantine hotel. They would still have to isolate until the test they take on arrival comes back negative but then can resume activities outside of isolation guided by local public health restrictions.

Currently, incoming air travellers must spend three days at a quarantine hotel at their expense, then complete their two weeks of self-isolation at their destination. They have to take a second test on Day 8 after arrival, which will no longer be required of fully vaccinated people.

“We’ll be watching carefully here in Canada and around the world as cases change and as vaccination rates rise,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said. “These metrics are very important factors.”

Several Conservative MPs said the Liberal government had failed to end its “unscientific and unsafe” quarantine hotel program, which still remains in effect for many travellers.

“What the Trudeau Liberals announced today does not give Canadians clarity on a path forward,” they said.

Business groups welcomed the proposed change but said it didn’t go far enough. Major airlines and airports said Canada still needed a “clear restart plan” for international travel, while the Canadian Chamber of Commerce urged quick action on digital vaccine certification.

The government also said seven million doses of Moderna were slated to arrive this month, with shipments starting next week.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said it will be the first time deliveries include doses from the company’s American supply chain. Details of specific shipment dates and quantities will come next week, she said.

Overall, Anand said Canada should have enough vaccine delivered for 80 per cent of eligible Canadians to be fully vaccinated by the end of July.

“Based on confirmed deliveries alone, Canada is set to receive at least 55 million doses by the end of July,” Anand said. “That is the minimum.”

Currently, 72 per cent of people aged 12 and older in Canada — and 63 per cent overall — have received a first vaccine dose, helping drive case counts lower.

Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, said the seven-day average for new cases had fallen below 1,800 for the first time since the fall. Similarly, daily hospitalizations have fallen by about half, and deaths have declined around 40 per cent.

However, Tam warned those who have received only one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to remain wary, especially with circulation of the Delta variant: “One dose of protection is not enough,” Tam said.

Tam also said she was looking at ensuring Canada gets close to 75 per cent of eligible people fully vaccinated before she would consider advising looser border restrictions for tourists and business travellers who aren’t Canadians or permanent residents.

To boost vaccine uptake, Manitoba is joining American jurisdictions in offering incentives to get a jab. The province said it would offer $100,000 cash prizes and $25,000 scholarships.

Anyone who has had, or will receive, a shot would be automatically entered into two lottery draws this summer, with each having seven cash winners. Ten scholarships will go to people aged 12 to 17.

Several U.S. jurisdictions have also offered incentives. Washington state recently said it would give out free marijuana joints to those getting a shot.

While overall new cases of COVID-19 continue to fall, death counts and those needing life-saving medical help remain stubbornly high in some areas.

Ontario, for example, reported 411 new cases Wednesday, one of its lowest levels this year. However, 33 more people were reported to have died of coronavirus disease, although the Ministry of Health said 11 of the deaths occurred in April and May.

Quebec reported a modest 178 new cases and eight more deaths. It was the fourth straight day the province had reported under 200 new confirmed cases. Sixty patients remained in intensive care.

In New Brunswick, lawyers for a doctor inundated with hate and racism amid erroneous accusations he violated anti-pandemic restrictions and sparked a deadly COVID-19 outbreak urged Premier Blaine Higgs to apologize.

Dr. Jean-Robert Ngola has threatened to sue if Higgs did not publicly apologize by the end of the week for statements made in May 2020. At the time, Higgs referred to a health-care worker under RCMP investigation for failing to self-isolate after returning to the province.

Prosecutors dropped charges against Ngola last week.

Nova Scotia Health said it was easing visitor restrictions at hospitals to allow more support for patients. As of Wednesday, two support people were allowed for patients in intensive care, critically ill patients, and for labour and birth.

Starting June 16, one support person will be allowed for all in-patients and patients in the emergency department, and three for palliative patients and those nearing the end of life.

On Saturday, Manitoba is lifting a ban in place since May 22 on almost all social gatherings to allow people to gather outdoors in groups of up to five people.

—Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

RELATED: To the beach! Spain opens borders to tourists, cruise ships

CoronavirusTourismtravelvaccines

Just Posted

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Jason Kenney says the provincial government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

Town of Castor
Town of Castor meeting highlights for June 14th

The Town has appointed a returning officer for this fall’s municipal elections

(Advocate file photo)
Red Deer down to 102 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 332 cases with 26 in hospital and five in ICU

Members of Castor Volunteer Fire Rescue were out about the town on June 8th doing Self Contained Breathing Apparatus training and contributing to the month-long ParticipACTION fitness challenge for the Paintearth Choosewell team, which currently sits in third place in the province. 
photo submitted
Members of Castor Volunteer Fire Rescue were out June 8th doing Self Contained Breathing Apparatus training

They were also contributing to the month-long ParticipACTION fitness challenge for the Paintearth Choosewell team

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

COVID-related trash is washing up on shorelines across the world, including Coldstream’s Kal Beach, as pictured in this May 2021 photograph. (Jennifer Smith - Black Press)
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

Most Read