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Trudeau imposes vaccine requirement on air and rail travelers

An Air Canada plane at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) on October 3 2021.DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

(Bloomberg) -- Justin Trudeau unveiled a vaccine mandate for federally regulated industries in Canada, following through on an election pledge he made during his successful bid for a third term.

The prime minister and his deputy, Chrystia Freeland, announced new rules Wednesday requiring passengers age 12 or older on planes, trains and cruise ships within the country to be fully vaccinated as of Oct. 30. Individuals who are in the process of being inoculated will be able to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test to travel during a transition period, which will end of Nov. 30.

“To travel, you have got to be vaccinated,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. “When it comes to avoiding lockdowns for everyone, this is no time for half measures.”

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Trudeau said in August his government would make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for travelers, transportation workers and federal employees. The incumbent Liberals attempted to use the issue against the rival Conservatives during the recent election, though were held to another minority in the Sept. 20 vote.

In his first full press conference after the campaign last week, the prime minister said implementing the pledge would be a top priority. More than 71% of Canada’s total population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, compared to 56% in the U.S., according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Canada has two major domestic airlines, Air Canada and Onex Corp.-owned WestJet Airlines Ltd. State-run Via Rail Canada Inc. provides train services.

The new policy also applies to all core federal public-service employees, who will need to attest to having been vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of October or face being suspended without pay by mid-November. Freeland said Canada’s top soldier would soon issue an order mandating vaccination for all members of the military.

“If you’ve done the right thing and gotten vaccinated, you deserve the freedom to be safe from Covid-19, to have your kids safe from Covid-19,” Trudeau said.

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(Updates with news of announcement.)

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