As of July 5, all fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada will be exempt from the mandatory 14-day stay inside one of the country’s COVID-19 quarantine hotels — but only if Health Canada authorized the vaccine that the traveller used.
Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada reiterated this caveat on Saturday.
“Fully vaccinated travellers allowed to enter Canada may be exempt from federal quarantine and day 8 testing starting July 5. Only vaccines approved by the Government of Canada will be accepted,” the agencies tweeted.
So far, the federal government has approved four vaccines for use: Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
The enforcement of this rule could spell trouble for travellers from countries like China or Russia, where much of each population was given the Sinovac and Sputnik V vaccines, respectively.
The vaccines not authorized include: Bharat Biotech (Covaxin, BBV152 A, B, C), Cansino (Convidecia, Ad5-nCoV), Gamalaya (Sputnik V, Gam-Covid-Vac), Sinopharm (BBIBP-CorV, Sinopharm-Wuhan), Sinovac (CoronaVac, PiCoVacc) and Vector Institute (EpiVacCorona).
However, one expert said that excluding certain vaccines in the new travel rules could be “problematic” and is a breach of personal liberties.
“This [policy] is essentially vaccine passports,” University of Toronto bioethics and global health professor Kerry Bowman said. “If every country does this, we’re going to have a huge problem on our hands in terms of access.”
Bowman pointed out that the AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yet, so if that country followed Canada’s lead, then it would limit the freedom of movement for millions of Canadians.
He said Canada’s new policy will exclude millions of people who have received the Sputnik V vaccine or one of China’s two vaccines.
Cross border travel could soon return between Canada and the U.S.
As the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved those vaccines, Bowman said Canada isn’t following the scientific evidence.
Instead, he thinks there should be an international standard set by WHO.
“Otherwise, we’ve got problems with fairness and freedom of movement.”
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.