Canada has announced that athletes who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine will be barred from entering the country.
While visitors have been required to show proof of vaccination, both professional and amateur athletes had been granted an exemption.
“As of January 15th, there will no longer be an exemption in place for professional and amateur athletes,” said Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino during a Nov. 19 announcement.
The country will also scrap vaccine exemptions for family travel, international students, and essential workers
All Canadians will be required to be vaccinated in order to travel both internationally and domestically starting on Nov. 30.
Under the country’s Quarantine Act, athletes who violate the mandate could go to jail or be fined up to $75,000.
“The rules could impact teams in the NHL, NBA, Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball — all of which have at least one Canadian club,” per The New York Post.
Most leagues – including the NBA, NHL and MLS – have reported over 94% of their athletes are vaccinated. Major League Baseball reports that most of its teams have about an 85% vaccination rate.
“The upcoming changes to Canada’s border testing and entry requirements reflect the next stage in our government’s approach as we align with the improving vaccination rates both here in Canada and around the world,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos of the changes.
“The situation at our borders remains closely monitored, with officials and experts continuing their work to evaluate the measures in place and recommend necessary adjustments as required,” he added.
The policy change is part of the national government’s reduction of exempt travelers who are not required currently to be fully vaccinated. As of January, international students over the age of 18, essential workers like truck drivers, and adults reunifying with their families will all be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine to cross the Canadian border.
Notably, temporary foreign workers in agriculture and food processing will retain their exempt status.
“After January 15, 2022, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will only be allowed to enter Canada if they meet the criteria for limited exceptions, which apply to certain groups such as agricultural and food processing workers, marine crew members, those entering on compassionate grounds, new permanent residents, resettling refugees and some children under the age of 18,” the Public Health Agency of Canada said in its announcement. “Exempt unvaccinated travelers will continue to be subject to testing, quarantine, and other entry requirements. Non-exempt unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will be prohibited entry into Canada.”
The Canadian government has also announced it will include Sinopharm, Sinovac and COVAXIN to its expanded list of vaccines that travelers can receive to be considered full-vaccinated.