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Monday,  July 22, 2024   5:16 PM
YYZ, YVR introduce separate lines for fully-vaxxed, non-vaxxed passengers
International arrivals at YVR will be split into separate lines based on their COVID-19 vaccination status. (Photo: Andrew Aziz/Twitter)

Toronto Pearson and Vancouver International airports are unrolling a new entry process that splits international arrivals into two separate lines based on their COVID-19 vaccination status.

Passengers at YYZ entering Canada from the United States or any other international destination will be split into two queues before reaching Canada Customs, according to this CBC report.

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

Travellers will notice a similar process at YVR as well.

The separate queues at Vancouver airport are set up only at the international arrivals terminal (not at departures), reports indicate.

In an interview with CityNews, Robyn McVicker, vice president of Passenger Journey at YVR, suggested that dividing up passengers will help streamline the arrival process, telling the news outlet that it will result in faster processing times for Canadians who have received their full series of COVID-19 shots.

The new airport procedures come after the Government of Canada released its first stage of easing travel and border requirements for international travellers.  

Since July 5, fully vaccinated travellers that are permitted to enter Canada have been allowed to skip previously-mandatory 14-day and hotel quarantine measures, as well testing on their eighth day post-arrival.

All travellers arriving in Canada are still required to present a pre-departure negative PCR test and provide a quarantine plan if they fail to pass border inspection.

To be considered fully vaccinated, a traveller must have received the full series of a vaccine — or combination of vaccines — accepted by the Government of Canada at least 14 days prior to entering Canada.

Currently, that includes vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).

International arrivals must also input their quarantine address, complete a health self-assessment and upload an image of their vaccination papers to the government’s ArriveCAN app prior to take off.

No surprise 

The launch of separate lines for vaxxed and non-vaxxed travellers at Canadian airports comes as no surprise.

In June, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra indicated that separate lines were coming to airports to ensure the “smooth movement” of vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers. 

"…on arrival, we can quickly sort passengers based on vaccination status and get them to the appropriate screening checkpoints, efficiently and safely,” Alghabra told reporters on June 21. “This means shorter lines, shorter wait times and getting out of the airport faster.”

One expert that CTV News Channel spoke with applauded the new approach, saying that it will make international travel easier (while also encouraging others to get their shots). 

"This will allow people to move very quickly, in and out of customs and whatnot," said Saskatoon-based Dr. Hassan Masri. "But also in addition to that, I think it's good to have a way to minimize the risk of interactions with other people who are potentially higher risk of having COVID-19 or spreading it."

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