Fully vaccinated US citizens can visit Canada without restrictions beginning Monday, Aug. 9, a big step toward a return to normal along the world’s longest land border.
“Thanks to the rising vaccination rates and declining COVID-19 cases, we are able to move forward with adjusted border measures,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday, adding that reopening to American travelers first was a “recognition of our unique bond, especially between border communities.”
The US-Canada frontier has been shut to non-essential travel, including tourism, since March of 2020. Those who traveled to Canada had been required to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. Last month, Trudeau lifted the quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo welcomed Monday’s announcement, saying: “An open border with our neighbors to the North means families will be reunited once again and much-needed relief for our border communities that depend on cross-border trade and supply chains.
“This is a significant step in our state and nation’s recovery,” Cuomo added, “and we must continue our work to get even more New Yorkers fully vaccinated so we can put COVID behind us once and for all.”
Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, who said he spoke with US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Friday, stated Monday that Washington has not yet told him of any plan to reciprocate and lift restrictions on travel from Canada.
“They [The Biden administration] anticipate their current measures will likely be rolled over on July 21,” Blair told reporters. “They are obviously considering additional measures and data, but at the present time they have not indicated a plan to make any changes in their current border restrictions.”
American lawmakers who represent states along the border have implored both governments for months to develop a joint plan to ease the restrictions, which have disrupted trade, separated families and cost the tourism industry in both countries millions of dollars.
Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY), whose district includes Buffalo and Niagara Falls, said in a statement Monday that Washington “has neglected to give re-opening the Northern Border the serious attention it deserves, and there is no excuse.
“Failure to coordinate this announcement in a bi-national way will only lead to confusion among travelers,” Higgins said. “We will continue to push for action by the US government to welcome our Canadian neighbors back.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the administration was “continuing to review our travel restrictions. Any decisions about resuming travel will be guided by our public health and medical experts. … I wouldn’t look at it through a reciprocal intention.”
Under the new rules, unvaccinated children travelling with vaccinated parents won’t have to quarantine upon arrival in Canada, but will have to avoid group activities including schools and daycare centers.
The Trudeau government added that it will begin welcoming fully vaccinated travelers from the rest of the world on Sept. 7.
According to data compiled by CTV News, about half of Canada’s 37.6 million population are considered fully vaccinated, while just under 70 percent have received at least one dose.
Blair suggested last month that a full reopening would not take place until 75 percent of eligible Canadian residents were fully vaccinated.
However, Ottawa expects to have enough vaccine doses delivered for 80 percent of eligible Canadians to be fully vaccinated by the end of July. The US only allowed for exports of vaccines into Canada in early May.
With Post wires