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Toronto's Pearson Airport is now separating passengers based on vaccination status

Anyone who's still on the fence about getting vaccinated might want to consider a new policy at Canada's largest and busiest airport — one that will make going through customs on the way home even more annoying than usual.

Toronto Pearson International Airport has confirmed that passengers arriving from destinations outside of Canada will now be split into two separate groups: Those who are fully vaccinated and those are either only partially-vaxxed or not vaccinated at all.

A spokesperson for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which operates Pearson, said in a statement on Sunday that the measure is meant to "help streamline the border clearance process" using the federal government's different entry requirements for travellers based on vaccination status.

As of July 5, fully vaccinated Canadian travellers have been permitted to enter the country by air without being subject to some federal quarantine rules (read: no more expensive mandatory stays in government-approved hotels or undergo a 14-day isolation period).

"Fully vaccinated travellers must still meet all other mandatory requirements, including pre- and on-arrival testing," noted the government when announcing the lifting of restrictions last month.

"Continued testing will allow public health experts to keep monitoring positivity rates at the border, monitor for variants of concern, and make further adjustments to border measures as needed."

People who are not citizens, permanent residents or foreign nationals with special permission to enter Canada are still barred from visiting for non-essential reasons, though this is set to change on August 9 when vaccinated U.S. residents (if they meet all requirements) can begin crossing the border once again.

The border is expected to reopen on Sept. 7 to to all international visitors who have been fully immunized with a Health Canada-recognized vaccine for at least two weeks before entering the country.

All travellers must still be asymptomatic, carry paper or digital proof of their vaccination status, present a suitable quarantine plan (if not exempt), be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, and follow all other public health measures in place.

"Subject to limited exceptions, all travellers must use ArriveCAN (app or web portal) to submit their travel information. If they are eligible to enter Canada and meet specific criteria, fully vaccinated travellers will not have to quarantine upon arrival in Canada," announced the government last week.

Of course, as usual, all travellers must still go through customs and be screened not only for COVID, but for all of the usual security stuff.

Under Pearson's new policy, this process will be significantly easier (and presumably shorter) for vaccinated folks than those who have yet to get jabbed.

"Passengers entering Canada from the U.S. or another international destination may be split into vaccinated and non/partially-vaccinated queues prior to reaching Canada Customs," said GTAA spokesperson Beverly MacDonald.

"We know that the arrivals experience is different for passengers than it was in pre-pandemic times. We appreciate passengers' patience as we work with all of our partners to implement Government of Canada requirements for international air travel."

Lead photo by

b.m.a.n.


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