Unvaccinated? Here are some of the things that are off-limits to you in Canada
TORONTO -- As the divide between those who are vaccinated for COVID-19 and those who aren’t continues to grow, so does the list of things those who refuse to get the shot can’t do.
While there isn’t yet a nationally mandated vaccine passport or other proof of vaccination, a number of restrictions have already been introduced by governments and private organizations, barring those who haven’t been immunized against the coronavirus from holding certain jobs, visiting certain places, and attending particular events.
Here are just some of the things that are off-limits to the unvaccinated in Canada.
FEDERAL PUBLIC SERVICE
Unvaccinated Canadians won’t be allowed to work in the federal public service jobs unless they have received all of their shots, according to a government mandate announced in early August.
According to the policy, the vaccine will be mandatory for all federal employees and those working in some federally regulated industries, such as airlines and railways, as early as the end of September.
The government also announced they “expect” employers in other federally regulated industries, such as banking and telecommunications, to require vaccinations for their workers.
It’s unclear what exactly will happen to employees in these industries who refuse to get immunized; however, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned of “consequences” for those who don’t have a “legitimate medical reason” for not doing so.
For those with valid medical reasons for not being immunized, the government said testing and other measures will be arranged for them.
There are approximately 300,000 federal public servants and hundreds of thousands more employees who work in federally regulated industries.
In addition to requiring workers in federally regulated transportation industries to be vaccinated, passengers on domestic commercial airlines, interprovincial trains, and cruise ships will also need both of their shots in order to be allowed to travel.
For anyone who is unable to get the vaccine for medical reasons, the government has said accommodations, such as enhanced testing and screening, will be set up for them.
The government said the policy is expected to come into effect “as soon as possible” in the fall, and no later than the end of October.
The pledge to make vaccinations mandatory for domestic travellers might not come to fruition, however, depending on the outcome of the federal election on Sept. 20.
As for international travel, unvaccinated Canadians will also have to go through more hoops upon their return home than their vaccinated peers.
Canadians arriving in Canada by air who have not been fully vaccinated will have to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and then quarantine at home for at least 14 days or as directed by a screening officer or quarantine officer.
Those who have been fully vaccinated, on the other hand, aren’t required to quarantine after they take a COVID-19 test at the airport.
Unvaccinated Canadians returning to Canada by land will also have to take the requisite COVID-19 tests and quarantine for 14 days while their vaccinated peers can skip the quarantine.
POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
In a sort of domino effect over the past few weeks, numerous post-secondary education institutions across Canada have announced that students and staff will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to return to campus in the fall.
While not all institutions are on board, with some preferring to allow students and staff to “self-declare” their vaccination status or allow them to take a COVID-19 rapid test instead, many prominent universities in Ontario and Manitoba have mandated vaccinations.
In Alberta, several post-secondary education institutions, including the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, and Mount Royal University, have said they will strongly encourage vaccines for students and staff, but they won’t mandate it.
Many institutions with mandatory vaccination policies have offered students and faculty a grace period at the start of the semester to give them time to become fully vaccinated during which they will have to undergo testing and other screening measures.
In most cases, students and staff who can’t be vaccinated for medical or other recognized reasons will be allowed to request special accommodations.
Canadians who refuse to be immunized might also face obstacles if they work in a health-care setting in certain provinces.
Ontario recently announced that employees, staff, contractors, students, and volunteers at hospitals and home and community care settings will be required to show proof of full vaccination or a medical reason for not being immunized against COVID-19.
Those who don’t provide proof of full vaccination will instead have to undergo regular testing, according to the provincial government.
The policy echoes one that is already in place in Ontario’s long-term care homes.
Quebec, too, has mandated that all health-care workers in the public and private sectors must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. The policy applies to any worker that deals with the public for 15 minutes or more on a daily basis, according to the provincial government.
Although some travel has been regulated based on vaccination status on the federal level, the government has stopped short of introducing a national vaccine passport or similar proof of vaccination for other activities and events.
Instead, the federal government has deferred to the provinces to decide whether residents will be required to show proof of their vaccination status in order to gain entry to certain businesses and events.
Quebec has taken the lead in this area with the announcement in early August that the province will be announcing a vaccine passport on Sept. 1. The passport will give vaccinated individuals access to public events, gyms, team sports, bars, and restaurants.
The province of Ontario announced on Sept. 1 that proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required to access non-essential businesses, including gyms, indoor restaurants, movie theatres and concert halls. The province's new vaccine certification program starts Sept. 22.
In Manitoba, the province has a proof of vaccination card, which will be required to attend certain events and places, including indoor restaurants, concerts, theatres and gyms.
Prince Edward Island has a PEI Pass that allows residents to avoid quarantine when they return to the province.
Alberta, on the other hand, has said they won’t issue vaccine passports for anything or make vaccinations mandatory.
With files from The Canadian Press and Reuters
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that unvaccinated travellers arriving by air would have to stay at a quarantine hotel.