Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a moment on Tuesday (June 8) to encourage Canadians to get their two full doses, hinting that the easing of border and quarantine measures will favour those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
No official date or timeline has been announced for lifting restrictions. However, the Prime Minister, insisting that his decision will be science-based, said there will be announcements to make “in due course.”
“We’ll have more announcements regarding measures for those who have had both doses in the weeks to come,” Trudeau told reporters at a press conference.
The PM urged Canadians to complete their vaccination process if they, for instance, want to start travelling again.
“I think we all understand that we want to get back to normal and start travelling again,” Trudeau said, “but it’s very clear that even though one dose has allowed us to significantly protect Canadians, and remove many of the pressures from public health systems, it is still an incomplete protection.”
Trudeau cited COVID-19 variants of concern, like the Delta variant, noting that the difference between protection of one dose of a vaccine versus two is “quite significant.”
The easing of restrictions, Trudeau said, will be "focused on Canadians who are fully vaccinated.”
“As more people begin to be protected, yes, we’ll be able to ease up the rules,” the Prime Minister said, speaking in French.
A multi-phased approach
Speaking at virtual event hosted by the St. John’s Board of Trade on Monday (June 7), Trudeau said the government will take a multi-phased approach easing restrictions at the U.S. border, which has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020.
One possible scenario being discussed for “Phase One” is to allow vaccinated travellers to avoid quarantine if they have a negative COVID-19 test, reports say.
"We are looking at how we're going to start welcoming tourists in a phased way as the numbers come down in Canada, as the numbers start to come down in the United States and elsewhere around the world," Trudeau said.
Trudeau, on Tuesday, didn’t provide any additional details on what sort of plan is in the works.
A plan is urgently needed, however, which the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) pointed out that same day as it launched a campaign directed at the federal government.
The letter-writing initiative focuses on getting Canadian decision-makers to “acknowledge the urgent need and to commit to a date to open the border before the summer tourism season is lost,” TIAC said in a release.
Aviation groups, such as the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) and Airlines for America (A4A), have also called on Ottawa to present a clear plan for reopening the air border before June 21, which is when current restrictions, such as the 14-day quarantine and the Canada-U.S. border ban, will either expire or be extended.
Trudeau told media on Tuesday that he is still working medical professionals and partners in the U.S. to determine next steps.
The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, a coalition of leaders in tourism and travel, has also urged the government to provide “clear, timely, and safe guidance on reopening travel.”
A report released in May by the COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel, a federally-appointed group of epidemiology and virology experts, is driving calls for the federal government to change its border and quarantine rules.
The report recommends eliminating quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers, implementing changes to testing and screening, and eliminating the hotel quarantine policy. (Click here to view the entire document).
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, speaking at a virtual town hall hosted by the Mississauga Board of Trade on May 28, said the report will influence future decisions on travel.
“It’s really going to provide good insight into our next considerations and next steps,” said Alghabra, noting that “adjustments” to border and quarantine measures will be made “in the coming weeks” as COVID-19 cases decline and vaccination rates increase.
As of Tuesday, 62.187% of the Canadian population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 8.211% of the population is fully vaccinated.
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