Mandatory masking on planes is here to stay, according to Canadian Transport Minister

Keean Bexte

March 18, 2022

As of April 1, mandatory testing will no longer be required to fly; however, mandatory masking and discrimination against the unvaccinated will remain.

“Today is a day that many of us have been waiting for,” Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said in a news conference today — many, perhaps, but not all.

While fully vaccinated travellers to Canada will no longer have to endure the inconvenience of compulsory testing, randomly selected individuals may still be required to undergo testing, though they will not have to quarantine.

But both testing and quarantine are compulsory for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers to Canada. Replying to a request by Raphaë​l Pirro of Le Journal de Montréal to estimate the number of such travellers prevented from entering Canada thus far under the previous measures, Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos felt that very few had been prevented from entering.

Not mentioned at this point or at any other time during the hour-long press conference were the measures that still constrain outward-travelling Canadians, preventing many from leaving their own country.

Minister Alghabra insisted that the lifting of these measures now was due to the efficacy of the vaccines. Yet this relaxation of COVID measures for the fully vaccinated comes at the end of the Omicron wave, against which, Public Health Canada admits, even a full “primary series” of two vaccination doses “isn’t as effective … as with other variants.”

Answering a question posed by Kevin Gallagher of CTV News concerning the Minister of Health’s view on potentially bumping the definition of fully vaccinated up to three doses, the Minister stated, “a three-dose regime is a primary series regime that most experts agree to.”

However, this differs from his own Ministry’s definition of a primary series as being comprised of two doses and leads to the question of why Canada’s Minister of Health does not think his own policies should reflect the opinions of “most experts” — and whose opinion does it reflect instead?

Only time will tell if the Minister’s words foreshadow a change in Canada’s “fully vaccinated” definition. In referring to France and Denmark, two countries that have redefined full vaccination as three doses, the Minister neglected to observe that both these nations allow entry to travellers with proof of prior COVID-19 infection, which Canada still failed to recognize yet again in today’s announcement.

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