Canadian officials will gather to make an update on border measures this afternoon.
The announcement will take place on February 15 at 1 p.m. Eastern in Ottawa, the nation’s capital.
Five federal ministers are slated to attend the announcement, including the minister of health, transport, public safety, tourism, and intergovernmental affairs.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos had signalled last week that changes were forthcoming, as Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said the country is seeking more sustainable plans to manage COVID-19.
Travellers to Canada currently must be fully vaccinated, with few exceptions. Unvaccinated travellers must quarantine. Vaccinated travellers need a pre-arrival COVID-19 test before crossing the border, and may be subject to a random on-arrival test.
Duclos said last week the worst of the Omicron wave is now behind Canada, and the government will continue to adjust measures accordingly.
Tam confirmed Canada’s travel advisory against international travel is being assessed.
Meanwhile, provincial governments are rolling back COVID-19 measures, and doing away with vaccine passport requirements. Manitoba plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions by mid-March. Ontario moved up its timeline to lax public health measures. Quebec, Alberta, and Saskatchewan have also announced plans to roll back restrictions.
In recent weeks, Canada has also been facing pressure from health experts and the tourism industry to lift the COVID-19 test requirement.
Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended countries lift international travel bans as “they do not provide added value” and contribute to economic and social stress. The spread of the Omicron variant has demonstrated that border measures are ineffective against the highly contagious variant. However, WHO also said travel measures like masking, testing, quarantine and vaccination should be based on risk assessment, and avoid placing the financial burden on international travellers.
WHO also said countries should not require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as the only condition permitting international travel, given the limited global access and inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
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