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Vaccine Mandate for Travel in Canada Highlights America’s Conundrum

By end of October, air, train, and sea travelers in Canada must show proof of vaccination, sharpening the U.S. travel industry’s debate about proposed vaccine mandates.

In mid-August, the Canadian government announced that by the end of October, it will require vaccination against Covid for anyone who travels by air, by interprovincial train, or by cruise ship in the country. In addition, all those who work in the air, train, and marine-travel industries must also be vaccinated.

At that time, the Canadian government said the decision “comes in recognition of the dynamic public health situation in Canada. Since the start of the vaccination campaign in mid-December, less than one percent of Covid-19 cases have been among those who were fully protected by a vaccine. These measures will contribute to reaching the overall levels of vaccination Canada needs to sustain a resilient economic recovery in the face of more transmissible and dangerous Covid-19 variants of concern.”

Further, “the Government of Canada is also calling on all organizations beyond the federally regulated sector to put in place their own vaccination strategies, drawing on the advice and guidance available from public health authorities.”

While similar mandates are in discussion throughout the halls of power in the U.S., the nation’s largest travel-industry advocacy organization just came out firmly in opposition to vaccine mandates for travelers. On September 13, the U.S. Travel Association released a statement in response to comments by Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor to the president, where he indicated support of a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel.

“The science—including studies from the Harvard School of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Defense—overwhelmingly points to the safety of air travel as long as masks are worn," says the USTA response. "And with the federal mask mandate for all forms of public transportation and U.S. airports extended through January 2022, proper tools are already in place to enable safe air travel for Americans.”

“U.S. Travel has long maintained that there should be no mandatory vaccination requirement for domestic travel. Such a policy would have an unfair, negative impact on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine.”

On the other hand, USTA’s leaders “continue to believe that vaccines are the fastest path back to normalcy for all, and we strongly encourage all who are eligible to get a vaccine immediately to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors.”

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