OTTAWA — Canada could open its border to fully vaccinated Americans for nonessential travel as early as mid-August.
The news comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call with premiers on Thursday night. According to a readout of the conversation, Trudeau’s provincial and territorial counterparts “expressed their support of reopening plans, and agreed on the importance of ensuring clarity and predictability as initial steps are taken.”
If restrictions are eased, U.S. citizens and permanent residents would be allowed into Canada. The readout noted current vaccination rates and Covid-19 trends are on a “positive path” and if they continue, “Canada would be in a position to welcome fully vaccinated travellers from all countries by early September.”
Nearly 80 percent of eligible Canadians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine; and at least 53 percent are fully vaccinated, according to Deputy Chief Health Officer Howard Njoo.
Those vaccination rates are higher than the United States where nearly 56 percent have received at least one dose and more than 48 percent are vaccinated.
The Trudeau government has previously suggested that current border restrictions won’t ease until at least 75 percent of Canada’s population has been fully vaccinated.
Pressure from U.S.: Trudeau’s cautious approach with the land border hasn’t made him many new friends stateside, including Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) and New York State Assemblymember Jonathan Rivera.
The pair issued a joint statement earlier this month urging the Canadian government to open the land border, arguing “the necessity for such drastic measures has now expired.”
“We respectfully request that Canadian officials use the powers defined by their offices to end the border closure for good on July 21 and return our two great nations to a place of storied camaraderie,” the statement read.
Midwest legislators unanimously passed a resolution at the Midwestern Legislative Conference on Wednesday to ask the White House and Canadian governments to strike a deal to ease restrictions to allow fully vaccinated travelers across the U.S.-Canada border.
Quick background: The U.S.-Canada border has been closed to all nonessential travel since March 2020. That initial agreement struck between the two countries at the onset of the pandemic has been extended on a rolling monthly basis.
The latest extension is expected to expire July 21.
Trudeau has adopted a cautious approach against pressures to reopen the U.S.-Canada border to nonessential travel. In a series of interviews this week, he cited concerns about the Delta variant and case studies of countries that reintroduced restrictions due to a spike in new cases. He stressed any ease of border restrictions would have to be introduced in “phased” next steps.
What’s next: The readout from Trudeau’s meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts stated more details for a potential border reopening plan will be revealed next week.
As for the mobility of fully vaccinated Canadians, Trudeau has said more work needs to be done nationally and internationally.
The prime minister told reporters on Tuesday that his government will work with the provinces and territories “to ensure that there is an internationally accepted proof of vaccination that will allow Canadians to travel freely in the coming years.”
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