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February 15, 2022 – Update by the provincial and federal governments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic

Here is a status report on the recent decisions and actions of the provincial and federal governments in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gradual withdrawal of the vaccine passport

Christian Dubé, Minister of Health and Social Services and Dr. Luc Boileau, National Director of Public Health, announced that the imposition of the vaccine passport will be withdrawn gradually over the next few weeks, by March 14, 2022.

“Now that the context of the pandemic has evolved favourably, we must start preparing to learn how to live with the virus. We are withdrawing the use of the vaccine passport prudently and gradually, without closing the door to a return to these measures if necessary. For the time being, we have leeway that allows us to consider a return to a more normal life,” Christian Dubé pointed out.

Steps of withdrawal of the vaccine passport

February 16, 2022:

The vaccine passport will no longer be mandatory for access to large surface stores (1500 square metres and larger), and to Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) and Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) outlets.

February 21, 2022:

It will no longer be necessary to present it for access to places of worship and attend funerals.

March 14, 2022:

It will no longer be necessary to present it in the following places:

  • CHSLDs, private seniors’ residences and intermediate resources;
  • Restaurants and bars;
  • Movie theatres and performance halls;
  • Casinos;
  • Public events and meetings;
  • Leisure places and recreation centres;
  • Training rooms;
  • Spas and saunas;
  • Halls rented for private gatherings.

The Government does not exclude the possibility of reimposing the vaccine passport, in the event of a new wave.

Note that beyond March 14, the vaccine passport will continue to be mandatory according to the federal government requirements for domestic trips by rail and air and for trips abroad to comply with the international travel requirements.

Changes to border measures

The Government of Canada has announced a series of changes to border measures.

“The return to mandatory random testing of all vaccinated travellers will facilitate travel for Canadians all while helping our public health authorities to detect future changes in COVID-19 importation rates and variants of concern. As we have said all along, Canada’s border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, for potential future scenarios,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health.

As of February 28, 2022:

On-arrival testing will be eased for fully vaccinated travellers:

  • This means that travellers arriving to Canada from any country, who qualify as fully vaccinated, will be randomly selected for arrival testing.  Travellers selected will also no longer be required to quarantine while awaiting their test result.
  • Children under 12 years old, travelling with fully vaccinated adults, will continue to be exempt from quarantine, without any prescribed conditions limiting their activities. This means, for example, they no longer need to wait 14 days before attending school, camp or daycare.
  • Unvaccinated travellers will continue to be required to test on arrival, on Day 8 and quarantine for 14 days. Unvaccinated foreign nationals will not be permitted to enter Canada unless they meet one of the few exemptions.

Concerning rapid tests:

  • Travellers will now have the option of using a COVID-19 rapid antigen test result (taken the day prior to their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) or a molecular test result (taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) to meet pre-entry requirements.
  • Taking a rapid antigen test at home is not sufficient to meet the pre-entry requirement – it must be authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service.

Concerning Travel Health Notices:

  • The Government of Canada will no longer recommend that Canadians avoid travel for non-essential purposes.
  • On February 28, 2022 at 16:00 EST, Transport Canada’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that restricts where international passenger flights can arrive in Canada will expire. This means that international flights carrying passengers will be permitted to land at all remaining Canadian airports that are designated by the Canada Border Services Agency to receive international passenger flights