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Canada Drops Last and All Covid Restrictions

In a highly anticipated move, the Government of Canada has announced “the removal of all Covid-19 entry restrictions, as well as testing, quarantine, and isolation requirements for anyone entering Canada, effective October 1, 2022.”

The governmental release said the reason for the removal of these measures was due to the fact that Canada “has largely passed the peak of Omicron BA.4 and BA5, high vaccination rates, lower hospitalization and death rates, as well as the availability and use of vaccine boosters (including new bivalent formulation), rapid tests and treatments for Covid-19.”

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The move means that travelers will no longer need to:

  • submit public health information through the ArriveCAN app or website;
  • provide proof of vaccination;
  • undergo pre- or on-arrival testing;
  • carry out Covid-related quarantine or isolation;
  • monitor and report if they develop signs or symptoms of Covid upon arriving to Canada.

Transport Canada is also removing existing travel requirements. As of October 1, 2022, travelers will no longer be required to:

  • undergo health checks for travel on air and rail; or
  • wear masks on planes and trains.

Cruise measures will also be lifted, and travelers will no longer be required to have pre-board tests, be vaccinated, or use ArriveCAN.

The release said that a set of guidelines will remain to protect passengers and crew, which will align with the approach used in the United States.

Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of health, said that, “Canada’s travel measures successfully mitigated the full impact of Covid-19 for travelers and workers in the transportation sector, and helped keep communities safe. Thanks to Canadians who rolled up their sleeves and got vaccinated, we are able to take this great step towards easing measures and returning to normal.”

The long continuation of border restrictions, including the need for the ArriveCAN app was widely criticized by both the U.S. and Canadian travel industry.

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Responding to the move, Jim Byers, former travel editor of the Toronto Star and columnist/blogger at Jimbyerstravel.com, told Smart Meetings that “I didn’t find ArriveCAN even remotely difficult, but I can see how some would-be travelers would’ve been confused by it. “

He says that he believes the restriction drop will spark more travel and that inflation, rather than Covid is what is worrying Canadian travelers more than anything else, citing an Angus Reid poll that says 40% of Canadians are delaying or cancelling travel due to high prices.

Although the hated “ArriveCAN” app need no longer be used for Covid border issues, it can still be used for advance declaration (free on a mobile app or on the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA website), which the government claims will save time at the airport in submitting customs and immigration declaration in advance of arrival.

The feature is currently available to travelers arriving at Toronto Pearson, Vancouver, or Montréal-Trudeau international airports and will expand to the Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Billy Bishop Toronto City, Ottawa, Québec City and Halifax international airports in the coming months.

Biden Wants an End to Hidden Airline Fees

President Biden announced a bid this week to end hidden airline fees.

At a meeting of the White House Competition Council, Biden announced a release of a new proposed rule that he said would significantly strengthen protections for consumers by “ensuring that they have access to certain fee information before they purchase their airline tickets.”

This would include fees to sit with your child, changing or canceling your flight or fees for checked or carry-on bags.

In response to the proposed rule, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “Airline passengers deserve to know the full, true cost of their flights before they buy a ticket. This new proposed rule would require airlines to be transparent with customers about the fees they charge, which will help travelers make informed decisions and save money.”

In response to the move, William J. McGee, senior fellow for aviation at American Economic Liberties Project, applauded the “DOT’s efforts to make the opaque air travel process more transparent and fair for baggage and ticket change fees. But he was less than enthusiastic about the fact that “the Department still refuses to comply with legislation that clearly directed the agency to eliminate fees for families with children under 13 to sit together. This is not a fee that needs to be transparent—it’s a fee that needs to be abolished.”

In an interview in the upcoming October issue of Smart Meetings, McGee also pointed out that “proposed” rules don’t mean “enacted” rules. The proposition gets a certain time period for the public and industry to comment, after which it may be amended, changed or discarded altogether.