As the weather starts to get colder and Canadians start eyeing sunny destinations to the south, Health Minister Patty Hajdu has a reminder: non-essential travel is still not advised.
Hajdu said prospective travellers should keep that in mind as they consider going to visit relatives or think about taking a beach vacation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ll remind Canadians that, as annoying as it is…we still have travel advisories in place recommending that people don’t travel unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Hajdu said, speaking during an interview with The West Block host Mercedes Stephenson.
Canada continuing to pressure U.S. on allowing people with mixed COVID-19 vaccines entry: Hajdu
There are “a couple of reasons” why the travel advisory is still in place, Hajdu added, including the fact that there are “a number of places in the world” where “COVID is still very, very out of control” — including some American states.
Hajdu also pointed out that travel rules can change in different jurisdictions “very quickly.”
“We’ve seen a number of stories over the last 18 months or so of Canadians finding out, when they’ve arrived in another country, that the rules have changed and that they now have hurdles to get back to Canada or challenges to get into the country in which they’ve just arrived,” she said.
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Her comments come on the heels of news that the fourth wave in Canada is starting to show signs of slowing, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
While progress has been uneven across the country, new modelling presented by PHAC on Friday suggests that if current transmission levels are maintained, the number of new daily cases could decline in the coming weeks.
Overall, the numbers give “reason for optimism” said Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada.
“With the level of vaccine coverage that we have achieved in Canada to date, we are much better protected going into the respiratory infection season,” Tam said.
“By maintaining basic and less restrictive measures such as masking and limiting close contact, we could reduce the impact of COVID-19 this winter.”
Meanwhile, the government has been preparing for a time when COVID-19’s spread slows sufficiently to allow Canadians to travel recreationally once again.
Hajdu said the government is working with other countries to try to ensure that when Canadians do travel, their vaccines are accepted — even in cases when an individual received two different kinds of COVID-19 vaccine.
“This is something that I think all countries are working through — which vaccines will they accept as proof of vaccination for entry into the country — and we’re going to continue to work with our American counterparts to share all the data they need to to move on this issue,” she said.
The Americans have yet to make a decision as to whether they’ll consider Canadians who received two different COVID-19 vaccine doses as being fully vaccinated.
Current COVID-19 vaccine coverage leaves Canadians ‘better protected’ heading into winter, Tam says
Hajdu would not reveal whether the U.S. administration appears open to recognizing COVID-19 vaccine dose mixing, but said Canadian officials will “continue to, obviously, press the Americans to recognize” it.
“I suspect that this will continue to be a work in progress for countries, including the United States, including Canada, about how we ensure that we have the confidence in vaccines that we haven’t had the ability to fully review from a scientific data base,” she said.
“That’s the work that we’ll continue to do here in Canada, and I’m confident our international partners will do so as well.”
— with files from Global News’ Leslie Young
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