OTTAWA — In his COVID-19 briefing yesterday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alluded to the possibility of travel restarting as early as this summer.
That’s the reason for hope, however with no further specifics the travel industry is left wondering what exactly will be lifted when it comes to travel restrictions.
With even interprovincial travel currently off the table for many right now, and with some premiers calling for more travel restrictions and checks as several provinces wait for third wave numbers to substantially decrease, ‘travel this summer’ could at best mean domestic travel within Canada – although that would still be a reason to cheer.
Yesterday Trudeau was asked about vaccination passports, in light of the fact that the U.S. – the most popular out-of-country destination for Canadian travellers – has so far been lukewarm to the idea.
Canada meanwhile is working in collaboration with its G7 counterparts to coordinate vaccination certification systems as the world moves towards reopening post-pandemic.
Not surprisingly, Trudeau opened his response with his oft-repeated message, “This is not the time to travel. We’re not there yet.”
He then reiterated Canada’s interest in vaccination certificates for international travel: “We are interested in aligning with the countries that would like to do so.”
As for the U.S., Trudeau said: “I can’t speak for the U.S. and the decisions they might make about who to welcome into their country.”
Later he said: “Ideally speaking [Canada and the U.S. would] have similar measures. But our responsibility is to do everything we can to protect Canadians, even if that doesn’t align with other countries.”
His comment about potentially reopening travel this summer was a quick mention in a broader response: “Perhaps this summer if everything goes well.”
For many Canadians, even being able to travel to another province this summer would be a positive development.
Earlier this week the EU took another step towards reopening travel within its 27-country bloc, with its Digital Green Pass certificate. The EU has also said it is open to the possibility of reopening to fully vaccinated Americans this summer. While vaccinated travellers may be welcomed back, the EU has also indicated that any reopening of travel still depends on the “epidemiological situation” both in the EU, and outside of the EU.
Just over one-third of Canadians have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and the vaccination rollout is ramping up in the coming weeks with millions of doses from Pfizer and Moderna arriving on Canadian soil. Third wave numbers are coming down in some provinces and inching up in others.