Canada is preparing to welcome the world back, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whispered Thursday night when his office unveiled a goal for mid-August for when the border could reopen for fully vaccinated Americans.
And if the vaccination rate remains on its current upward trajectory, fully vaccinated travelers from around the world could start arriving in early September, Trudeau said during a COVID-19 status update with Canadian prime ministers.
The news was almost buried in the closing paragraphs of a reading of the call from the Prime Minister’s Office, a tactical display of modesty, perhaps, in a national capital where the smell of an impending federal election is in the air.
“The prime minister noted that if our current positive vaccination rate path and public health conditions continue, Canada would be in a position to receive fully vaccinated travelers from all countries in early September,” the statement read.
“He noted ongoing discussions with the United States on reopening plans and indicated that we could expect to begin allowing fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents to enter Canada in mid-August for non-essential travel.”
The statement does not mention whether eligible American visitors will need to show proof of vaccination, a sensitive issue in a country where personal freedoms are sacrosanct. The White House has already scrapped the idea of a vaccine “passport.”
Trudeau also boasted that Canada leads the G20 countries in vaccination rates, with 80 percent of eligible Canadians having received at least one dose of the vaccine. More than half are fully vaccinated, Trudeau said.
Pressure has increased on the federal government to continue easing border restrictions, which have been in place since March last year. However, much of it comes from south of the border in question.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is just one voice in a growing chorus of U.S. lawmakers, many from states and districts bordering Canada, who have lately called for non-essential travel for vaccinated people to resume.
And polls are beginning to show that widespread opposition in Canada to easing border restrictions, which peaked at the height of the COVID-19 crisis in the US, has finally started to melt away.
In fact, the reopening process has already begun: Last week, the Canadian Border Services Agency began exempting fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents from a 14-day quarantine requirement.
Aiming to allow vaccinated Americans to enter Canada in mid-August: PM to prime ministers. #CBSA #Edge # COVID19 #CDNPoli
The restrictions, imposed by mutual agreement in March last year when the pandemic began to hit hard, have been renewed monthly since then. Next time they expire on Wednesday.
“The prime minister indicated that ministers would share more details on these plans early next week,” the reading reads.
It also says that prime ministers expressed support for the reopening, provided the process is accompanied by “clarity and predictability.”
They also talked about working “collaboratively” on some type of credential and vaccine system to “allow Canadians to travel internationally with confidence.”
This Canadian Press report was first published on July 15, 2021.