Unvaccinated athletes will be denied entry to Canada by Jan. 15, 2022

Photo courtesy: federal government

The Canadian federal government is making a number of changes to its border measures in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and they could have an effect on the 2022 CFL season.

As of Jan. 15, 2022, professional and amateur athletes will only be allowed to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with one of Canada’s approved vaccines.

This new regulation will also apply to those travelling to reunite with family, international students, individuals with valid work permits, and essential service providers. Some individuals under the age of 18 will be exempt from these rules.

“Health and safety will always remain at the forefront of any decision our government makes in the fight against COVID-19. 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,” Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos in a press release.

“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.”

Unless these regulations are altered or lifted by the start of the 2022 CFL season, they would prohibit unvaccinated players from entering the country. CFL teams dress twenty Americans and a minimum of one Global for each game with additional such players on the practice roster and injured reserve.

There is currently a vaccine requirement in place for Canadians travelling within the country by air or certain rail lines. Unvaccinated individuals are still permitted to travel if they produce a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of departure, though this exemption expires on Nov. 30 when all travellers must be fully vaccinated.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are not dressing quarterback Paxton Lynch this week due in part to him being unvaccinated, according to head coach Craig Dickenson. With the upcoming expiration of the travel exemption, Lynch will be ineligible for air travel to the West Final in Winnipeg or the Grey Cup in Hamilton provided the Riders qualify for either or both games.

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.