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YVR no longer splitting passengers at arrivals terminal by COVID vaccination status

Last Updated Jul 26, 2021 at 6:02 pm PDT

Separate lines depending on vaccination status at YVR. (Credit: Andrew Aziz/Twitter)

YVR has scrapped its policy of separating arriving international travellers based on vaccination status

The airport had created two different lines at customs for fully vaccinated people, and everyone else

The airport claims it created the lines to streamline the customs process, but turns out it did not yet

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — International travellers flying into Vancouver are no longer being separated at customs based on whether they’re fully vaccinated.

The vaccinated and unvaccinated lines have been a controversial policy, but it’s been scrapped within three weeks of taking effect.

YVR’s Robyn McVicker explains to NEWS 1130 that the separate lines were set up to speed up the entry process, because each group has different rules for entry.

However, the intentions to streamline the clearance process for passengers arriving as of July 5, “didn’t meet what we were hoping for.”

“There were a lot more vaccinated passengers coming into Canada than we had originally anticipated,” she says. “Because of that, and because we did receive lots of feedback from our passengers, we talked to Transport Canada, we talked to CBSA and the Public Health Authority of Canada and the other airports, and we are changing the approach that we are using. Where now everybody will come through in the same way.”

McVicker explains the rapid changes to how the airport continues to navigate the pandemic and limit the spread of COVID is something they are “constantly evaluating.”

“We thought maybe like 15 per cent of people coming in would be vaccinated. What we’re finding is actually sometimes it’s up to 80 per cent on some flights … which meant that we actually needed the … whole customs hall in order to effectively process people.

“And we found that the timeframe for processing from a vaccinated passenger and an unvaccinated passenger was the same. We originally thought that it would be faster [for vaccinated travellers].”

McVicker adds some passengers expressed that they were uncomfortable with how people were being put in separate lines, which contributed to the decision to adjust the custom lines.

Reaction to the new arrival policy was mixed on social media, with some calling it segregation and others applauding the move.

“What we heard is that there were concerns and we wanted to make sure that we were addressing it and decided, this is really the right time to make this change before we add in the U.S. on August 9.”

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Early next month, fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents from the U.S. will be allowed to enter the country.

All other fully vaccinated international travellers will be allowed to enter Canada starting Sept. 7, on the condition the country’s COVID-19 case counts remain low and vaccination rates keep trending in a positive direction.

Despite lines no longer dividing passengers based on vaccination status, you must still wear a mask until you leave YVR.

Travellers who aren’t fully vaccinated still need to quarantine for 14 days, but McVicker says more than 80 percent have proven they’re fully immunized.