Professional athletes not yet inoculated against COVID-19 are about to be barred from entering Canada, the country’s health minister said Friday.
Canada, which requires international travelers entering the country to be vaccinated, has up until now exempted professional and amateur athletes from the policy, the CBC reported.
But with COVID-19 vaccines easy to get and widely available, things are changing, said Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.
“As of January 15th, there will no longer be an exemption in place for professional and amateur athletes,” said Mendicino, a member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s governing Liberal Party.
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.
As of September, 95 percent of NBA players were vaccinated, according to the league. The NHL said in October just four of its athletes had yet to receive a shot, while more than 95 percent of MLS players have gotten the jab.
Unvaccinated NBA players include Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets, Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic, and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets, who has been barred from playing this season due to New York’s vaccine mandate.
It is unclear how many MLB players remain unvaccinated.
Canadian-born players won’t be exempt — starting Nov. 30, the Canadian government will require vaccinations for all international or domestic travel, the CBC said.
The country will also scrap vaccine exemptions for family travel, international students, and essential workers, Mendicino said.
Unvaccinated athletes who violate Canada’s mandatory quarantine rules are subject to massive fines of up to $750,000 and possible prison time under the country’s Quarantine Act.