OTTAWA – Canada has scrapped an official advisory urging its citizens to shun non-essential foreign travel, given its successful campaign to inoculate people against COVID-19, the country’s top medical officer said on Friday.
Hours later, Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, issued a timeline to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions, with the aim of removing all proof of vaccination and mask requirements by March 2022.
Canada’s travel warning was issued in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted.
Ottawa removed the advice to avoid unnecessary travel late on Thursday, however, it is still telling people to avoid cruise ship travel outside of the country.
“The beginnings of the transition away from the more blanket approach really recognizes vaccines are very effective at preventing severe outcomes,” Chief Medical Officer Theresa Tam told a briefing.
Ontario laid out a six-month timeline to lift all COVID-19 restrictions, starting with removing capacity limits in the “vast majority” of public venues on Oct. 25 and culminating in an end to all mask and proof of vaccination requirements by March.
The timeline will be dependent on “the absence of concerning (pandemic) trends,” it said in a statement.
“This plan is built for the long term,” Premier Doug Ford said. “It will guide us safely through the winter and out of this pandemic while avoiding lockdowns and ensuring we don’t lose the hard-fought gains we have made.”
Ontario spent much of the past 18 months in some form of lockdown due to high infection rates and hospital bed occupancy of COVID-19 patients.