This summer, the Government of Canada announced that it would ban all non-vaccinated travelers from boarding any plane in a Canadian airport. Even to *leave* the country. Without any possibility of presenting a test as an alternative. An extreme measure, by its own admission.
Many have asked us about this measure, including travelers who are vaccinated or non-vaccinated. Believe it or not, even fully vaccinated travelers (like us) can wonder if this extreme measure is really possible.
And if not, vaccinated travelers might be quite concerned that non-vaccinated travelers might continue to be with them on a plane, so it’s good to know.
It’s supposed to go into effect on November 30… if the government actually goes ahead with it.
Here are 4 reasons why it might not happen (and a bonus one)… and for each, why it might happen too.
The basics of the new requirement
I’ll start with a warning.
Just to be very clear: It’s definitely very possible that the government will enforce the rules exactly as they said they will. That’s what it has been saying all along. So there’s no choice but to consider that the most plausible option automatically.
So for those who are not vaccinated and want to be sure they can travel, the best chances of success are to:
- Get vaccinated
- Leave the country before November 30*
*There are no changes to Canada’s entry rules at all, it’s a completely separate rule. This one is for boarding a plane in a Canadian airport only. So non-vaccinated Canadians will still be able to enter, they just have to leave before November 30th (and 145 countries are open to non-vaccinated Canadian travelers).
It goes into effect this Saturday, October 30th (only for those over the age of 12 of course), but there is a one-month transition period, so the government may be waiting until as close to the end of that period as possible to unveil all the exemptions and details…
During the transition period, non-vaccinated people are allowed to fly with a molecular (PCR) test done within 72 hours before the flight (there are no other requirements, contrary to what the government clearly wanted to make believe).
This test exemption will end on November 30… or will it?
4 reasons why the new requirement could be a bluff
Preventing non-vaccinated people from getting on a plane doesn’t have negative impacts like kicking out non-vaccinated nurses that made the Québec government back down. But the Canadian government could still soften its own stance…
1. Just the announcement of the measure is enough to scare people
If the purpose of the announcement is to scare the non-vaccinated into getting the vaccine, it is probably very effective.
Just telling the unvaccinated that they will be stuck in Canada (which is indeed a very scary thing, especially for travelers) must surely have encouraged vaccination.
Just the announcement and the threat of the measure itself may be enough… without actually implementing it.
Hypothetically, waiting until just before November 30 to finally say that the 72-hour PCR test exemption remains would probably have as big an effect on travelers’ vaccination rates as actually implementing the measure.
And it would avoid all the headaches that implementation entails, especially from a legal standpoint (plus the government already has to deal with challenges to its vaccination requirement for federal employees as well, in parallel).
Now, on the other hand… why it might happen.
The purpose of the measure is either to convince non-vaccinated travelers to get vaccinated in general or simply to punish the non-vaccinated (but not to protect passengers; see the bonus reason at the end).
And measures to punish travelers and to punish the non-vaccinated are excessively popular with the population and public opinion, the one thing that always matters most to politicians.
So punishing the unvaccinated who want to travel, wow! That’s a double-dip of political points to score. So it’s very possible that this is worth the effort for the government.
2. The international component
I won’t even talk about what many are saying, that this measure infringes on the constitutional right to free movement or to leave the country. Because objectively speaking, it’s not like it’s the first exception to freedoms in response to the pandemic.
Whether you’re for it or against it, that’s an undeniable fact. And the fact is that judges have consistently ruled that just about every restriction on freedoms was justified in their view during the pandemic. That’s the reality.
But the problem is with foreigners. Many foreigners are entitled to exemptions to enter Canada while unvaccinated.
The government has just announced that they will be exempted from this new requirement, so non-vaccinated people will already be on planes (like those who live in remote areas, who have medical exemptions, who are traveling “for emergencies”, etc.).
And if you give an exemption for foreigners, that means you have no choice but to include Canadians with dual citizenship, right?
What the government is saying is that they are going to be stuck here and not allowed out. I’m not sure the governments of these people’s countries are going to appreciate having their citizens imprisoned.
It is unlikely that the government will actually prevent a Canadian with dual citizenship from leaving Canada. About 2 million Canadians have dual citizenship. That’s a lot of people.
So non-vaccinated dual citizens would have more rights than those who are “100% Canadian”? Might not be the best look politically to discriminate like that, right?
Now, on the other hand… why it might happen.
The government could simply discriminate and say that non-vaccinated Canadians don’t have the right to leave, but that their fellow citizens who happen to have been born elsewhere (or have acquired another citizenship somehow) have more rights than them.
The fact remains that the unvaccinated are a minority, and during the unnecessary election in the middle of the pandemic, the government was very clear about the fact that they would rather use them to score political points than try to win their votes anyway.
3. No other country in the world does this (or very few)
As far as we know, there is no other country in the world that thinks it’s reasonable to prevent non-vaccinated people from leaving the country.
To be clear: Unlike the entry rules of each country, Flytrippers has not done the verification for all countries, since there is no added value for our readers. But we have never heard of another country that has proposed such a measure.
At the minimum, Canada would be among the very few countries to do this. Or perhaps the only one in the world to do so.
Does that automatically mean that the government won’t do it? Of course not.
But the fact that no other country has proposed this has no choice but to raise doubts about implementation.
For example, Australia has always banned everyone from leaving (not just the unvaccinated). They will soon let the vaccinated out, but they already had exemptions to allow the unvaccinated out (which should remain in place) and they’re not just for those with dual citizenship or foreigners.
And even if they do remove them, this is also the country that shoots dogs in shelters to keep people from coming to get them, so maybe they’re not necessarily what you’d call good company in terms of extremism…
Now, on the other hand… why it might happen.
The government has been saying all along that they are comfortable with having this extreme measure. The definition of extreme is “reaching a high or the highest degree” and the government is bragging that this measure is going to be the “strongest in the world”.
In short, it admitted and knew from the beginning that this is extreme and that it goes beyond what other countries are doing. And it doesn’t have a problem with that (again, it’s very popular in public opinion, so…).
4. Their own track record
This would not be the first time that the Government of Canada has exaggerated travel measures when announcing them.
Yes, this government has a history of announcing rules that are stricter than the ones it ends up implementing.
Here are 4 recent examples (the first one is even related to this particular measure).
First, I alluded to it briefly earlier, but on the government website, it said that the grace period for this measure was for travelers “in the process of being vaccinated”.
Flytrippers immediately reached out to Transport Canada’s media relations department and just as we were certain of, it’s not even true. It’s just worded to scare the non-vaccinated as much as possible. The grace period is for all non-vaccinated travelers, whether they are in the process of getting vaccinated or not.
So clearly, the government is still comfortable with intentionally making the measures look worse than they really are.
Secondly, when the hotel quarantine was announced, the government repeatedly talked about a cost of $2,000 per person. In reality, when the measure went into effect, there were hotels for as “little” as ≈ $600 in some cities. You will tell me that a 70% difference is not much for a government that has never really given the impression of knowing how to do any math and I would say “touché“…
But still, there is a pattern.
Because thirdly, this summer they did the same thing again: They announced a stricter rule to scare people away from booking travel, and then they relaxed it when it was time to implement it.
When they announced the end of the 14-day quarantine, they said it was going to be mandatory to go into quarantine at home for 24 to 48 hours while you got the results from the test that was done upon arrival at the time. They never publicly talked about changing that and yet when the rule came into effect… there was absolutely no quarantine at all.
Finally, during the 2020 Christmas holidays, when the travel-shaming really started after media reports, the Prime Minister kept saying that new rules were going to be implemented quickly, to discourage those who had not yet left and reassure those who were so scared of returning travelers.
In reality, the pre-departure testing requirement that the government imposed only began on January 7, when the vast majority of those who had left for the holidays had already returned.
It was much less stringent than originally announced. All 4 times.
Now, on the other hand… why it might happen.
Lots of other times…the government announced something and implemented exactly what they announced.
So like the other 3, this reason alone doesn’t guarantee that this measure is going to be less stringent. But when you look at them all together, it’s certainly at least possible… although you definitely shouldn’t count on it too much, as mentioned in the introduction.
Bonus: The science
The science would be a good reason for the government to not be as strict. And for them to allow showing a negative PCR test instead of proof of vaccination.
Haha, that’s a joke… we know objectively that science is not what they base their travel decisions on: The panel of scientific experts assembled by the government itself produced an exhaustive report in May (!!!) and recommended eliminating “excessive” pre-departure testing for vaccinated travelers who want to enter Canada. The government still hasn’t followed the science 5 months later.
That’s why it’s a bonus reason, because it’s not really a true possible reason for the government (and also Flytrippers likes to add bonuses to our lists, since we like to give you more for your money).
But if we were to follow the science, maybe having a test would make the non-vaccinated potentially less risky than all the vaccinated travelers like me, who still won’t even need to get tested to fly (and who can still transmit the virus even if vaccinated).
For your information, Canada tests unvaccinated travelers upon arrival and publishes the data. Only 1% test positive since they had to do a pre-departure PCR before entering.
Is it really out of the realm of possibility that 1% of fully vaccinated (but untested) travelers could also be positive? And that they would therefore represent the same level of risk as unvaccinated travelers who would provide a 72-hour PCR test to board a plane?
It would be interesting for the government to publish the data they used when thinking up this new measure, since they claim their travel rule decisions are based on science.
Now, on the other hand… why it might happen.
The government does not base decisions on science. If they really would, why not have the unvaccinated present a same-day PCR test, lowering the risk to almost zero. Yes, express results would cost travelers more, but they’d almost certainly be more likely to be COVID-negative than vaccinated travelers, who are untested.
The government already has special one-day testing rules for direct arrivals from 2 countries (India and Morocco). Including for unvaccinated Canadians. It’s doable.
If this was about lowering the risk for passengers, they would ask everyone to be tested! Even us vaccinated travelers: We can still be infected and infectious.
But it’s about punishing the non-vaccinated. Which is fine, if you advocate for that and believe is right. But at least be transparent and say that this is what it’s about…
Note that any foreigner can transit through Canada (WITHOUT being vaccinated and WITHOUT being tested) and therefore be seated next to you on the plane, but they also have this right since they are not Canadian… The Science™.
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It’s possible that the vaccination requirement to board a plane will be less strict than advertised. Or not. We’ll probably find out at the last minute, just before November 30.
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This Post Has 20 Comments
Excellent article Andrew. Thank you for laying it all out so clearly. Without a doubt it is about punishing the un”vaccinated”. It has absolutely zero to do with ‘safety of Canadians ‘or the spread of the virus. So sad that there is so much evil in this country and this country’s dictatorial leadership. We are doomed, fellow Canadians, as this is just the beginning. Even those with a vax pass will soon be denied other privileges unless they comply with whatever the government’s next outrageous demands will be. If they don’t comply their pass will not be updated and they will be in the same boat as those of us who do not have the pass. Total control. Just a matter of time. It will be worse than Cuba ever was.
Hi Tina, I don’t know about all that but what I know for sure is that if the unvaccinated were such a risk onboard our planes, the government would stop letting unvaccinated untested foreigners on the planes headed to Canada and on the planes departing from Canada (for transits). Makes no sense 🙁
Now that we are one week away has there been any chatter about this not still being implemented?
Nope, in their press conference on Friday about the changes to the entry rules, they reiterated the November 30 date so it’s not looking good :S
Thank you for this article! Very clearly laid out. Could you speak to the second option that is allowed during this transition period according to the gov travel site.. need of pcr test OR proof of a positive covid test youve had and recovered from after 14 days no more than 180 days. Are airlines actually accepting this form of entrance?
Hi, if you have had a positive test, that is 100% accepted yes 🙂
What if one is unvaxxed and own their own jet?
Hi, as long as you are not using a commercial flight or a regular airport terminal, you can fly without being vaccinated if you have a private jet.
The departure ban is about punishing the unvaccinated. The public demands the ban. The govt benefits by having the public being on their side. A perfect political solution. The ban will be in effect for a long time.
That is also likely yes, unfortunately.
Great article. Nothing more I appreciate than objective write-ups.
Have any details been shared on how this ban will be enforced? Will airports screen travelers for vax status at Security check-in? Or will it be done individually by the airlines at their departure gates?
Hi, that’s not clear yet no. To be continued.
Wow, this is the most comprehensive logical site I have seen addressing the Canadian travel quagmire, and I’ve been looking for months. Well done sir!
Thank you for following us, our mission is to help all Canadians travel more 🙂
How has it gotten this far? How can the government get away with this blatant discrimination? How can a prime minister be so evil towards citizens of their own country? He has clearly lost his mind. It is so obviously about punishing the unvaccinated. How can this unfair, unnecessary, unscientific vaccine requirement be challenged and abolished before it’s too late?
A vast majority of people want restrictions on the unvaccinated and politicians always want to do what the people want.
The travel ban is now implemented… We are officially like the Soviet Union used to be if not worse when Jews couldn’t get out. Crazy. Who would have believed that this can happen in Canada? Very sad as thousands of families are torn apart.
Not quite yet, until the 30th it’s still possible to leave. We’ll have to see if they really ban people from leaving then :S
I love the way you explain stuff. Clear and obvious.
Good job. Thank you!
Thank you for following us 🙂