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Canada issues Covid-19 vaccine mandate for travelers 12 or older on trains and planes

By Melissa Alonso, CNN

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday announced a nationwide Covid-19 vaccine mandate for rail and air travelers as well as staff.

“Today we are fulfilling two of our main commitments — mandatory vaccination for federal employees and mandatory vaccination for travel,” Trudeau said.

Canada will also have a vaccine mandate for federally regulated workers in place by the end of the month, according to Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Trudeau said that by the end of October all travelers 12 or older on a plane or train within Canada must be fully vaccinated. Trudeau said there will be a short grace period where unvaccinated travelers or staff “can provide a negative Covid-19 test.”

“By the end of November, if you’re 12 or older and want to fly or take the train, you’ll have to be fully vaccinated,” said Trudeau, noting that “testing will no longer be an option before boarding a train or a flight” in Canada.

Trudeau said there will be “extremely narrow exceptions, like a valid medical condition.”

“These travel measures, along with mandatory vaccination for federal employees, are some of the strongest in the world,” the prime minister said.

“This is about keeping people safe on the job, and in their communities,” he added. “Because when it comes to keeping you and your family safe, when it comes to avoiding lockdowns for everyone, this is no time for half measures.”

All “federal public servants in the core public administration must be fully vaccinated” by October 29, according to Freeland.

“Members of the public service who are not fully vaccinated, or do not disclose their vaccination status by October 29, will be placed on administrative leave without pay as early as November 15,” Freeland said.

The mandate will apply to several government entities, including “Correctional Services of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, and many other offices and agencies,” according to Freeland.

Separately, Freeland said, defense officials “will issue a directive mandating vaccination for the Canadian Armed Forces, and we are working with employers in federally regulated workplaces.”

“We want to ensure that the Government of Canada sets an example, and establishes a vaccination policy that protects everyone’s safety,” Freeland said.

“We also know that some parts of Canada are today facing a very difficult fourth wave of the virus and there are sectors of the economy that continue to struggle,” Freeland said.

Approximately 89% of eligible Canadians have received one Covid-19 vaccine dose and about 82% of eligible Canadians are fully inoculated, according to Freeland.

“The vast majority of Canadians have stepped up and done the right thing,” she said.

The government is Canada’s largest employer.

“Vaccines are the most effective tool against COVID-19, and countless Canadians — including many public servants — have already done their part and gotten their shots,” Trudeau said in a statement.

The statement also said a strict vaccine requirement will be put in place for cruise ships before the resumption of the 2022 season.

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CNN’s Ray Sanchez contributed to this story.

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