Keeping the Canadian border closed for at least another month, the federal government will announce on Monday a relaxation of Canadian travelers who have had two doses of the vaccine. But many questions remain about the next steps for Canadians who dream of traveling.
Returning from his first international trip since the start of the pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in quarantine at Rideau Cottage, was subjected to questions from reporters. Can people vaccinated with AstraZeneca enter the United States? Will children under 12 years old be exempt from hotel quarantine? Which vaccine certificate will be accepted?
“I understand people’s impatience, but I also understand that no one wants to see a resurgence of COVID-19,” Trudeau said.
“Yes, we want to get back to normal, but we are not done with this pandemic. We are still seeing cases across the country and we want it to be on the decline.”
The prime minister said Canada will soon meet the long-awaited target of 75% of Canadians with one dose and 20% with two doses which will allow for further measures to be relaxed. By the end of July, the country is expected to have received about 68 million doses of the vaccine, which will provide two doses to all eligible Canadians age 12 or older.
Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said on Twitter that the first round of facilities for Canadians, permanent residents and others authorized to enter Canada will be announced on Monday, June 21. Already, the mandatory hotel quarantine for those arriving at a Canadian airport is expected to be lifted.
It is expected that these measures will be implemented at the beginning of July, at a date that has not yet been determined.
Borders are always closed
The government is extending restrictions in place for another month, until July 21, since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, at international borders and at the Canada-US border. This news sparked outrage from politicians south of the border and within the business community in Canada and the United States.
“No other way to say it: The delay for another month is bullshit. #Let’s get together,” Brian Higgins, a congressman from the Buffalo-Niagara Falls border area in western New York, wrote in a tweet. Mr. Higgins is the co-chair of the Canada-US Parliamentary Group.
Goldie Haider, chair of the Canadian Business Council, showed more restraint.
The country’s prime ministers held their regular phone call on Thursday evening and discussed ways to reopen the borders for at least two hours.
Federal Government Affairs Minister Dominique LeBlanc said they had “very constructive” discussions. Trudeau, for his part, said everyone was determined to “work together” to lift restrictions quickly but safely to avoid more waves.
The federal government hopes to find a permanent solution this fall to allow Canadians to show proof of vaccination when traveling internationally.
In the meantime, travelers will be able to use the ArriveCAN app to take a photo of proof of vaccination to prove they got two doses when they go through customs.
“It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s one that we’ll be able to implement quickly so that people can have a few more options this summer,” Trudeau said.
There are still many details to be negotiated internationally, notably the recognition of the various authorized vaccines.
The United States, for example, has not authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine. Trudeau said he wants to make sure that Canadians who, like him, have received a dose or two of AstraZeneca will be able to cross the border when it is time to travel to the United States.
“These are discussions that will conclude in the coming weeks, hopefully, in time for people to start traveling. We are not there yet,” the prime minister said.