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Canada to require vaccine for air travel

The Canadian government announced Friday it will require all federal workers and most commercial rail, air and ship passengers to get vaccinated against Covid-19, amid a surge in virus cases due to the Delta variant.

“We know that vaccines are the best way to end this pandemic,” said Dominic LeBlanc, a government minister in charge of Canada’s federal bureaucracy.

“We expect federal public servants to want to comply with this mandatory requirement,” he added.

A deadline for inoculations for some 300,000 public servants will be announced in the coming weeks.

The federal government is Canada’s largest employer and LeBlanc said the vaccine mandate is “aimed at helping Canada reach a minimum level of coverage needed to fully reopen the economy, and keep it open as well as to protect thousands of workers.”

The vaccination requirement for the transport sector should be applied by the end of October at the latest, LeBlanc said at a press briefing.

It includes all commercial air passengers, as well as people traveling by rail between provinces and on large vessels such as cruise ships, local media cited Transport Minister Omar Alghabra as saying.

The country’s largest carrier, Air Canada, said mandatory vaccinations was “a welcome step forward in the evolving measures to protect the health and safety of airline employees, customers and all Canadians.”

As of Friday, 71 percent of Canada’s 38 million population had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while nearly 62 percent were fully vaccinated.

The announcement comes less than a month before the reopening of Canada’s borders to vaccinated foreign travelers, scheduled for September 7, a year and a half after their closure due to the pandemic.

In 2019, nearly 235,000 Canadians visited Costa Rica, according to Tourism Board data.

As a result of the pandemic, the number of Canadian arrivals to Costa Rica fell to 115,632 people in 2020 and less than 11,000 people through the first six months of 2021.

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