While Canada has started easing Covid-19 travel restrictions for some its own citizens, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it will be some time before unvaccinated international travelers will be allowed into the country.
“I can tell you right now that’s not going to happen for quite a while,” Trudeau told reporters at a press conference yesterday in British Columbia.
But for fully vaccinated travelers, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The prime minister said that “all our conversations” are on how to reopen the border to travelers who have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“The next step will be looking at what measures we can allow for international travelers who are fully vaccinated,” the prime minister said. “That will be our first focus, and we will have more to say in the coming weeks.”
The U.S.-Canada border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2o2o restrictions are set to remain in place until at least July 21.
While Trudeau did not commit on the timeline for a broader reopening plan, the first step is underway, with some border restrictions for Canadians loosening since last Monday. Fully vaccinated Canadian residents returning to their country from abroad can now skip the 14-day quarantine, and those returning by air no longer have to spend their first three days back in Canada at a government-approved hotel. Federal officials called this a “first phase” of reopening given the pace of vaccination in Canada.
Trudeau’s cautious approach has frustrated business leaders and tourists on both sides of the border. “We have to make sure, however, every step of the way, that we are not sliding back, that we are not having to re-close, not having to go yo-yoing again in our openings and closings,” said Trudeau.
When the border does open to non-essential travel, all travelers, including Americans, will be required to use the free ArriveCan app when entering Canada. The app allows travelers to enter their vaccine status and Covid-19 test results, then provides a digital receipt with a QR code that must be shown at the Canadian border.
Canada’s Covid-19 case count has been dropping steadily and vaccinations have steadily ramped up. Roughly 78% of Canadians aged 12 years or older have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, health officials said yesterday. About 44% of people 12 years or older are fully vaccinated.
Despite the pressure to reopen the border more quickly, Trudeau has remained steadfast in his preference for caution. “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,” he said.
- Edited and written by Emirhan Tongün.