What dropping the travel mandates means for Canadians moving forward

By the weekend, travelling into and across Canada will look a little different.

On Monday, the federal government announced it would be dropping COVID border restrictions for anyone entering Canada and masking on planes and trains will also come to end.

The changes are set to come into effect on Oct. 1.

Mary Jane Hiebert, the board chair of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies and operates Oyster Travel Service in Steinbach, said the use of the ArriveCan app as well as showing proof of vaccination will also be gone.

“Most of the world, actually these days have lifted the restrictions. So I think Canada is just following suit with most of what every other country is doing. You know, following the science, it says we should be safe, we’re vaccinated. I don’t know that (the government) followed any peer pressure, but they certainly were listening,” said Hiebert.

From travellers she has spoken with, Hiebert said they are happy that these mandates are being lifted.

“The ArriveCan app has been a bit of a nuisance, frankly. It’s cumbersome, not everyone is tech-savvy. There were hiccups and glitches in the system that actually forced people to quarantine when they didn’t need to. So it wasn’t a perfect world…but I think people are sort of relieved and happy that we’re coming to an end of these restrictions.”

She said ever since COVID-19 started spreading, transportation companies have made travelling as safe as possible, noting she has felt safe when she needs to fly or take a train.

“I think early on, the airlines were actually very proactive in making sure the surrounding areas within the cabin were very safe,” she said. “You’re in confined quarters within your offices, within your homes, certainly, yes, you are meeting people that are not within your own homestead on planes and trains and automobiles. But, the airlines have certainly made the conditions very safe.”

She said people still need to be smart when travelling and that if they have symptoms of any kind they should still wear a mask or not travel.

With the changes coming, Hiebert was asked if this will help reduce some of the delays and problems that are felt at the airport or border crossings.

She said while dropping the restrictions is good news, it might lead to more delays.

“ArriveCan, in some cases, was positive in that people who used it, well because you had to when you arrived back into Canada, that made things speed up a little bit at customs and immigration,” said Hiebert.

She noted border agents are still needed, as well as pilots and flight attendants, so there could still be some problems while the system tries to get back up to 100 per cent capacity.

Hiebert said for those who haven’t travelled for the last two-plus years, she is advising them to still bring a mask and make sure they arrive early so they have plenty of time to make it through security.

– With files from CTV News’ Nicole Dube and Rachel Aiello

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