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A look at Canada's vaccine mandates and public health restrictions


A convoy protesting a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers is expected to arrive in Ottawa this weekend for a protest on Parliament Hill.

The mandate, which came into effect Jan. 15, requires Canadian truckers to quarantine if unvaccinated when crossing the border into Canada.

Although the so-called “freedom convoy” has largely rallied around this mandate, the protest has included general frustrations and opposition to other vaccination requirements and public health restrictions.

Speaking about the convoy on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decried the “fringe” views of some of its supporters.

Here is a look at some of the vaccine mandates and public health restrictions that currently exist in Canada, most of which are not federal responsibilities but instead fall under provincial and territorial jurisdiction.


Along with the recent mandate for cross-border truckers, the federal government on Nov. 30, 2021, barred unvaccinated travellers over the age of 12 from boarding a plane or passenger train in Canada, regardless if they have a negative COVID-19 test.

The federal government also has required core federal public servants, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to be fully vaccinated, a policy affecting approximately 267,000 workers with exceptions made for medical or religious reasons or on human rights grounds.

As of Jan. 10, almost 98 per cent of federal employees reported being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The federal government also plans to require employees in federally regulated workplaces to be vaccinated.

This would include those working in interprovincial air, rail, road and marine transportation, pipelines, banks, and postal and courier services.

Ultimately, most of the public health restrictions affecting the daily lives of Canadians, such as mask-wearing, eating at a restaurant and capacity limits, are made under provincial and territorial orders. Violating some orders can result in fines.


As of Jan. 25, masks are still required in all indoor public settings for anyone five years old and older.

Indoor gatherings are limited to a household plus 10 visitors or one other household. Everyone 12 and older also must be fully vaccinated. There are no restrictions for outdoor personal gatherings.

Organized gatherings that are indoors, such as ticketed parties, weddings and funeral receptions, are not allowed. The limit for outdoor organized seated gatherings is 5,000 people or 50 per cent, whichever is greater.

Indoor events at concerts, theatres, dance and symphony performances, sporting events, movies, lectures or ticketed events, also are limited to 50 per cent capacity, no matter the size. Everyone must be fully vaccinated and all spectators must remain seated.

Fifty per cent capacity limits also apply to casinos, fairs, festivals and trade shows, as well as pools and indoor sports. Worship services have no capacity limits if everyone is fully vaccinated. Otherwise, they must operate at 50 per cent seated capacity.

Adult indoor gyms and dance studios are allowed to open under certain capacity limits.

Bars, nightclubs and lounges that do not serve meals remain closed. Indoor and outdoor dining is allowed for up to six people per table. Restaurants, cafes and pubs must scan proof of vaccination QR codes for entry.

Only essential visitors are allowed at long-term care homes and must show proof of vaccination before visiting, as well as complete a rapid test.


Businesses eligible to participate in the province’s Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) are allowed to operate with fewer restrictions if they require patrons 12 years old and over to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test result.

As of Dec. 24, 2021, indoor facilities participating in the REP must limit capacity to 50 per cent if occupancy is greater than 1,000, and to 500 attendees if occupancy is between 500 and 999. No limits exist for facilities with occupancy less than 500.

Outdoor events and facilities have no capacity restrictions.

Restaurants, bars and nightclubs in the REP are limited to 10 people maximum per table, with no mingling between tables or activities such as dancing, darts or billiards. Liquor cannot be served past 11 p.m. and businesses must close by 12:30 a.m.

Indoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people at most if 18 and older. Children and youth 17 and under count toward the 10-person max unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 20 people maximum.

Capacity at places of worship is limited to one-third of fire code occupancy. Masks are mandatory.

Indoor wedding ceremonies and funeral services are allowed for up to 50 people or 50 per cent occupancy, whichever is less, unless hosted in a facility in the REP.

Indoor wedding and funeral receptions are prohibited unless in an REP-eligible facility. Outdoor ceremonies, services and receptions are allowed for up to 200 people.


Masking is mandatory in all indoor public spaces or any enclosed space other than a private home.

This includes workplaces, retail stores, recreational venues, restaurants and professional buildings, as well as areas restricted to staff only.

Proof of vaccination or a negative test also is required for public access to a number of establishments, businesses and event venues. This includes restaurants, movie theatres and gyms.

As of Oct. 1, 2021, provincial government employees are required to be fully vaccinated or provide regular proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Children under 12 are exempt from providing proof of vaccination or a negative test.


Children under 12 are exempt from the province’s indoor and outdoor gathering rules around vaccination.

At-home gatherings are limited to five additional people if anyone present is unvaccinated. Households can have up to 10 additional people if everyone is fully vaccinated.

Outdoor private gatherings are limited to 10 additional people if anyone present is unvaccinated or 20 additional people if everyone is fully vaccinated.

Public indoor gatherings can have up to 25 people at most or 25 per cent capacity, whichever is lower if those attending are unvaccinated. Groups of fully immunized people can gather up to 50 per cent capacity or 250 people, whichever is lower.

For outdoor public gatherings, up to 50 people are allowed if anyone is unvaccinated, while groups of fully vaccinated individuals can gather outside at a public gathering up to 50 per cent capacity or 250 people, whichever is lower.

Masks are required in indoor public spaces. Employees, contractors and operators in an indoor public place do not need to wear masks if in an area that the public does not have access to.

Proof of vaccination is required for anyone 12 and older in order to attend certain businesses and events, such as indoor and outdoor dining.

Gyms, restaurants and bars are limited to 50 per cent capacity or 250 people, whichever is lower, with proof of vaccination required. Up to 10 people are allowed per table at a restaurant, with liquor service ending at 10 p.m.

The same capacity limits apply to professional sports, performing arts events and concerts halls, except for unvaccinated children under 12 who may attend if accompanied by a fully vaccinated member of their household.

Religious services may take place at 50 per cent capacity or 250 people with proof of vaccination, or 25 per cent or up to 25 people without proof, whichever is lower, although separate cohorts of up to 25 people are allowed at the same service if physically distanced.

Outdoor religious services can have up to 50 per cent capacity or 250 people if fully immunized, or up to 50 people if anyone is unvaccinated. Drive-in services have no restrictions. Similar capacity limits exist for indoor and outdoor weddings and funerals.

Some regions also have put in place their own restrictions around retail capacity.


The Ontario government will gradually ease public health restrictions starting Monday.

Social gatherings will increase to 10 people indoors and 25 people outside, while sporting events, concert venues and theatres can operate at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.

Restaurants and bars without dancing, movie theatres and religious services can operate at 50 per cent indoors, along with retailers and shopping malls and non-spectator areas of gyms and other sports and recreational fitness facilities. Enhanced proof of vaccination will continue to apply.

By Feb. 21, indoor social gathering limits will increase to 25 people indoors and 100 outdoors.

At that point, capacity limits in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including restaurants, indoor sports and recreational facilities and cinemas, will be removed.

Further restrictions are expected to be lifted on March 14.


Quebec also will move to lift certain restrictions on Monday.

As of that date, small gatherings can take place and restaurants can open at half capacity. Up to four people from two bubbles at most will be allowed to eat together, with proof of vaccination required. Bars and casinos will remain closed.

Extracurricular sports practices can carry on with 25 people maximum only for those 18 years old and under. Games are not allowed.

Indoor dining at ski lodges can take place at 50 per cent capacity with proof of vaccination.

More restrictions are expected to be eased on Feb. 7.


New Brunswick moved to Level 3 of its COVID-19 measures on Jan. 14.

Under Level 3, the province’s single-household bubble rule is in place, meaning residents can only gather with those they live with.

Restaurants are limited to drive-thru, takeout and delivery. Gyms, salons and entertainment centres must close, with faith-based gatherings limited to outdoor services, virtually or in-car.

Organized sports and activities are not permitted with those outside of a single-household bubble. Lodges and facilities that support outdoor sports cannot exceed 50 per cent capacity or allow food and drinks to be consumed indoors.

Registration is no longer required in order to enter New Brunswick from anywhere in Canada

The province is expected to move out of Level 3 on Sunday.


Informal gatherings with members of the same household are allowed for up to 10 people indoors or outdoors, without social distancing and masks.

Performing arts can have up to 10 people inside and 25 people outside, not including staff, for rehearsals and virtual performances only. The same applies to organized sport practices and training.

Drive-in faith services have no limits, but gatherings by a business or organization are limited to 25 per cent capacity up to 50 people inside or outside. Informal faith gatherings can have up to 10 people.

Proof of vaccination is required to go to a restaurant, movie, sport event, theatre performance, social event and the gym, except for children under 12.

Restaurants and bars can operate at 50 per cent capacity, with up to 10 people per table. Liquor can only be served until 11 p.m. Restaurants and bars must close by midnight but can continue offering takeout, delivery or drive-thru after that. Live music with only one performer is allowed, along with dancing as long as masks are worn.

Retail stores can operate at 50 per cent capacity.

Long-term care residents are allowed two visitors at a time.


Prince Edward Island is expected to ease its public health restrictions on Monday, with personal gatherings allowed with household members and up to 10 other people.

Organized gatherings will be limited to 50 people plus staff. Weddings and funeral receptions are not allowed.

Team practices and recreational activities can take place with up to 20 people. Gyms can open at 50 per cent capacity.

Indoor dining will be allowed at 50 per cent seated capacity and up to 10 people per table. Food and drinks cannot be served past 11 p.m. and restaurants and bars must close by midnight. Dance floors or karaoke are not allowed.

Masks cannot be removed when seated at indoor events. Retail stores, casinos, museums and libraries may open at half capacity.

The province’s Vax Pass, or proof of vaccination, program will remain in place and includes sports events, restaurants and bars.

Long-term care home visits will be increased to three care partners and three designated visitors.

Individuals entering the province must continue to isolate for four days with testing.


Newfoundland and Labrador remains in modified Alert Level 4, which will be reassessed on Monday.

A household bubble can interact with up to 10 close, consistent contacts outside of that bubble. Informal gatherings are limited to those in a “Tight 10.”

Funerals, burials, weddings, religious and cultural ceremonies are limited to 50 people or 25 per cent capacity, whichever is less. Dance floors and wakes are prohibited.

Gyms, fitness facilities, yoga studios, swimming pools, tennis and squash facilities, arenas and dance studios may open with up to 50 people or 25 per cent capacity.

Group and team sports, arts and recreation activities where close proximity is required are suspended, and performance spaces are closed.

Retail can open at a reduced capacity, while restaurants may open for in-person dining at half capacity with up to six people per table. Buffets are not allowed and bars and lounges are closed, along with cinemas and bingo halls.


Masks are required in all indoor public settings, schools, vehicles with people from more than one household and outdoor public settings where physical distancing can’t be maintained.

Proof of vaccination is required in certain settings for anyone 12 years and four months of age and older, such as indoor sports, arts or recreation, gyms unless accompanied by an adult, movie theatres, weddings and funerals, and indoor dining at restaurants.

Up to 10 vaccinated people from up to two households can gather indoors, or up to 25 with up to three households outside regardless of vaccination status.

Indoor organized gatherings are limited to 10 people from two households and 50 people outside.

Weddings and funerals are postponed, but can be held outside with up to 50 people.

Bars and restaurants can have up to six people from two households at a table. Seated dining must end at 10 p.m., but takeout can be offered past that.


Changes to gathering limits in the Northwest Territories are in place until Sunday at the earliest.

Personal gatherings are limited to no more than five people from outside a household and 10 people maximum, except if more than 10 people reside in the same household.

Indoor dancing, singing, playing of wind and brass instruments, traditional hand games, indoor contact sports and high intensity fitness classes, indoor winter sports and swimming are prohibited.

Restaurants and bars cannot have more than six people per table or mingling between tables.


As of Tuesday, indoor gatherings at non-dwellings are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings can have up to 25 people.

Arenas can have up to 25 people or 25 per cent capacity. Team sports are not allowed.

Restaurants are only open for takeout and bars are closed.

Libraries, museums and galleries can open to 25 people or 25 per cent capacity, with no group tours.

Places of worship can have 50 people or 25 per cent capacity, with no singing allowed.

Theatres and swimming pools are closed, and long-term care facilities can only have one visitor per resident, who is immediate family.

With files from Rachel Aiello Top Stories

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