In public remarks Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave the clearest indication yet about what plans the federal government has in mind to reopen Canada’s border.
The two key takeaways from his comments, as reported by the CBC, are that Canada’s borders will reopen first to vaccinated travellers, and that, rather than the gates being flung wide open all at once, restarting travel into the country will take place in phases.
“We are looking at how we’re going to start welcoming up tourists in a phased way as the numbers come down in Canada, as the numbers start to come down in the United States and elsewhere around the world,” Trudeau said in his remarks.
Last month, a panel of experts convened by the Minister of Health advised scrapping hotel quarantines. Instead, they recommended a range of requirements to be applied equally to both land and air arrivals based on their vaccination and testing status.
Great… But When?
No date has officially been given for the first phase of the reopening of the border. But the CBC’s report provides two clues.
On one hand, comments made by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to a group of border mayors in May apparently indicated doubt that restrictions would be lifted by 21JUN, when current border restrictions are due to expire.
On the other hand, the CBC also quotes an anonymous official privy to talks between Canada and the U.S., who, “suggested July would be a likelier starting date for the first phase.”
A Global News report also points out that inter-provincial travel restrictions would also need to be relaxed before national borders open, saying, “Federal and provincial tourism ministers have previously agreed to first promote travel within regions, once it is safer to do so, then within provinces, before ultimately attracting international visitors.”
As Open Jaw has previously reported, one of the issues to be resolved before the government reopens the border is adopting a form of vaccination status verification.
Vaccine ‘passports’ could be a can of worms in the process of reopening the border with the U.S. as American government officials have come out against them, even as border state politicians push for the border with Canada to reopen.
That could lead to a scenario that the CBC is calling an “asymmetrical reopening.”
Until now, both sides have mutually agreed to extend the border closing, but indications are that some American officials are frustrated with Canada’s continued caution. The U.S. could potentially open its side of the border before Canada – and apply different rules to travellers crossing the border – if it loses patience with negotiations with Canada’s government.