MONTREAL: Canada will suspend Covid-19 border restrictions in October, the country’s public health agency said on Monday.

The country will no longer enforce testing, quarantine, vaccination or mask rules for travelers wishing to enter Canada, the agency said in a statement.

“We are announcing that the government of Canada will not renew the order in council that expires on September 30 and will therefore remove all Covid-19 and border requirements for all travelers entering Canada,” Minister for Health Jean-Yves Duclos said.

According to a statement from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the change was made because of “modeling that indicates that Canada has largely passed the peak of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 fueled wave” and because of the country’s high vaccination and lower hospitalisation rates.

“We are able to do this because tens of millions of Canadians rolled up their sleeves and got vaccinated,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra told reporters. “We’ve all worked together to follow the guidelines, get vaccinated and protect one another.”

The new guidelines also apply to cruises, the statement said, and will follow rules in place in the United States.

Last week, in an interview with CBS programme 60 Minutes, US President Joe Biden declared that the pandemic was over in the US. “We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over,” he said.

His remarks came despite numbers showing that over 400 Americans on average were still dying from the virus each day.

However, despite President Biden’s comments, the US administration has no plans to lift the ongoing Covid-19 public health emergency which was extended in August to be in place till October 13, as per the US media reports.

Until the new change, anyone 12 and older coming into Canada had to be vaccinated or else submit to a testing regimen and quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, and masks were mandatory on planes and trains.

Despite the relaxation of health requirements, the health agency still encourages travelers and Canadians to wear “high-quality and well-fitted masks,” to get vaccinated and to self-isolate when necessary, the agency’s statement said.

Around 90 per cent of Canadians 12 and older have received at least two doses of a Covid vaccine and about half have received a booster, according to official government figures.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2022

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