SASKATOON -- Fully vaccinated Canadians will soon be able to travel outside of the country without having to self-isolate for 14 days or have to quarantine upon arrival.

University of Saskatchewan epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine says the announcement is an opening but “probably not necessarily an invitation” for people to take the first flight out of Canada.

He predicts that people will likely travel interprovincially before booking an international ticket.

“I think we have almost forgotten what it is like to board a plane ... I think it will happen slowly, it won’t happen instantly because the virus is still among us,” he said.

While optimistic about the announcement, he wishes the federal government would look at its public health measures first, such as wearing masks, before considering travel.

“What kind of precautions and public health measures should we be taking at one point in time in relation to the vaccine?”

Muhajarine says incentivizing Canadians to get vaccinated is a “legitimate” tool to exercise and a “benefit” as the country continues to reach a herd community.

In terms of reaching 80 to 85 per cent of the country getting vaccinated, he says we are “running into a wall.”

“We are running into a hard to reach, you know, our population who may hesitate still to get a vaccine or outright refuse, those hesitating people. We want to win them over,” he said.

Travellers will still have to show a negative pre-departure PCR test, and will have to take a COVID-19 test upon arriving in Canada. Once in Canada, returning travellers will still need to self-isolate until their most recent test result comes back negative.