Schumer calls for plan to reopen Canada-U.S. border; ‘vaccine tourism’ under the microscope

Canada-U.S. border closure extended again, to April 21

OTTAWA — The closure of the Canada-U.S. border has been extended, yet again, by another 30 days.

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, tweeted out the news this morning.

“Non-essential travel restrictions with the United States have been extended until April 21st, 2021. We will continue to base our decisions on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe from COVID-19,” said Blair.

While Canada’s vaccination program is well underway, and vaccination shots in the U.S. are upwards of 2 million per day, the variants have fuelled what most are calling a third wave, and much of Canada is still in lockdown or high levels of restrictions.

As reported at Travelweek on March 15, at a press conference in Quebec, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that while there are “ongoing discussions” about the border, “Canada’s first priority will always be ensuring the safety and security of our citizens.”

 

 

“We’re all eager to travel again,” he said on Monday, but noted that health and safety must come first. The border reopening will happen “eventually, but not for today.”

Many in the travel industry are asking for more of a plan, or at least benchmarks. And not just for the Canada – U.S. border, but for Canada’s borders to all travel.

Listing off the agenda for ACITA’s upcoming Zoom meeting with Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, ACITA co-founder Brenda Slater told Travelweek on March 15:  “We also need a clear plan to reopen our borders when it’s safe to do so, so we are able to rebuild confidence in advisors and consumers and restart our industry.”

Meanwhile ACTA, which has had talks with the Ministry of Transport and is also now in talks with the Ministry of Finance as the airline bailout heads towards the finish line, is hoping for a metrics-based restart too. Any restart for travel and tourism won’t come with a magic date but rather a set of conditions, said ACTA President Wendy Paradis at ACTA’s webinar earlier this month. As she noted, the conditions could include the number of COVID cases, the number of hospitalizations, the number of Canadians vaccinated and the development of vaccination verification tools.