Ottawa, Ontario (CNN) — Canada will require most commercial passengers traveling by air, rail or large ship to be fully vaccinated by fall.
The vaccination requirement “includes all commercial air travelers, passengers on inter-provincial trains and passengers on large, marine vessels with overnight accommodations such as cruise ships,” said Omar Alghabra, Canada’s transport minister, during a virtual press conference Friday.
Canadian ministers speaking at the press conference indicated that they wanted to “set an example” for other employers and Canadians as they continue to try and safely reopen more sectors of the economy.
“Although Air Canada awaits further details about today’s announcement on mandatory vaccinations, it is a welcome step forward in the evolving measures to protect the health and safety of airline employees, customers and all Canadians,” according to the statement.
In the United States, at least two airline executives have said they don’t expect vaccinations to be required for domestic travel.
Kirby said it is possible that vaccinations will be required for some international travel.
‘An evolution’ of vaccination requirements
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said in recent months that he did not believe vaccine mandates would be necessary.
His ministers backtracked on that Friday and said their position was “an evolution of the government’s posture” given new scientific data, adding that this new policy is an incentive for Canadians to get vaccinated.
Those with documented medical reasons for refusing a vaccine with be exempted, the ministers said, but they were not categorical about what would happen to those employees who refused to get vaccinated despite the mandate.
“You know what Canadians don’t want? Canadians don’t want to go back to lockdowns. Canadians don’t want to go back to travel restrictions. Canadians want to go on with their lives and go back to normal as quickly as possible. And you know it’s not uncommon for government to play a regulatory role when it comes to protecting the overall health and safety of Canadians,” Alghabra said.
While this is a wide-ranging policy that will be implemented nationally, many Canadian provinces are currently not requiring health care or education workers to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment.
Canadian public health officials confirmed Thursday that the country is in the grips of a fourth wave of Covid-19, and that the virus is mounting a “strong resurgence.”
Canada has seen a doubling of active Covid cases in just two weeks, and hospitalizations have inched up more than 10% in the last week alone.
CNN’s Marnie Hunter contributed to this report.
Photo: Passengers leave after taking Covid-19 tests at Vancouver International Airport in Vancouver, British Columbia, on February 22, 2021. (Photo by Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)