It’s going to be “quite a while” before Canada reopens its borders to unvaccinated tourists, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday (July 8).
Addressing media in Coquitlam, B.C., Trudeau was answering a question from CTV News that asked when the federal government would commit to a border reopening plan so the tourism sector could begin accepting vaccinated or unvaccinated visitors from abroad.
On when unvaccinated tourists might be able to return to Canada: “I can tell you right now, that’s not going to happen for quite a while,” Trudeau said.
“We need to continue to ensure that the safety of Canadians, of all the sacrifices that so many people have made over the past many, many months, are not for nothing.”
On July 8, industry leaders from Ottawa, together with the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, called on the feds to announce a re-opening plan for Canadians before calling an election.
"We all know that an election means a pause on all government activity,” said Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of Canadian Chamber of Commerce, on Thursday. “Canadians and Canadian businesses deserve to know what re-opening looks like long before a federal election is called."
On July 5, the federal government eased its mandatory quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated Canadian and permanent residents arriving from abroad.
In what’s being referred to as the "first phase,” Ottawa’s approach to easing border restrictions will depend on COVID-19 case counts and vaccination rates, officials have said.
Under the new guidance, eligible travellers must provide proof of full vaccination at least 14 days prior to travel by uploading documentation to the ArriveCAN app and a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of entering Canada.
According to this online vaccine tracker, nearly 70 per cent of the Canadian population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Just under 40 per cent of the population is now fully vaccinated with two full doses.
July 21 is coming...
The Canada-U.S. land border remains closed to non-essential travel until at least July 21, 2021.
While reports indicate that work on reopening the border has begun, Trudeau, on Thursday, could not say if a plan would be ready by the July 21 deadline.
“We’re not there yet,” Trudeau said. “We’re going to continue to work with the White House and with our American partners on coordinating as much as possible.”
“We will make sure, every step of the way, [that] the safety of Canadians and the strength of our reopening is first and foremost.”
Trudeau, as usual, said he would have more to say on the matter “in the coming weeks,” but emphasized that the next step for reopening international travel will focus on fully vaccinated individuals.
The Prime Minister stressed that there are still “strict rules” in place for those returning from abroad who are not vaccinated, such as the 14-day quarantine order.
“I can tell you the next step will look at what measures we can allow for international travellers who are fully vaccinated,” Trudeau said. “That will be our first focus.”
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