OTTAWA — There are still no concrete details about the federal government’s plan for reopening Canada’s side of the Canada-U.S. border – at least, no details that have been shared with the public.
However comments from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at his COVID-19 briefing yesterday suggest the 75% vaccination metric could be a starting point.
A reporter asked Trudeau about reopening plans for the Canada-U.S. border, still closed after more than 14 months.
Reports circulating in recent days indicated that preliminary border talks are underway, but whether those talks could lead to the border reopening this summer, or are the same routine check-ins that Canada and U.S. officials have maintained throughout the 14-month COVID-19 border closure, is still up for debate.
“We continue to work very closely with the American authorities and with Canadian experts on how we can move forward in a way that is safe for Canadians,” said Trudeau yesterday.
“We know we’re not yet out of this third wave and we know there are still real concerns around transmission of the virus. But we will continue to work with our partners and hopefully get to a better place, when the time is appropriate.
“We’re all eager to get back to normal but we know that before we get back to normal, cases need to be under control, and over 75% of people need to be vaccinated for us to start loosening things in Canada.
“We’ll see what framework we apply to ensure we’re keeping Canadians safe, even as we look to eventually changing the restrictions and the posture at the border.”
Calls are mounting on both sides to reopen the border, in light of the strong vaccination numbers in the U.S., and the rapidly rising vaccination numbers in Canada. Last week New York Rep. Brian Higgins sent a letter to President Biden urging the U.S. President to “directly engage” with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in order to widen the definition of essential travellers by the end of May, with an eye toward fully reopening the border by early July. And earlier this month U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer also sent a letter to the Biden administration stressing the need for a reopening plan for the Canada-U.S. border.
This isn’t the first time letters have been sent, however. And a spokesperson for Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair noted that Blair is in regular contact with his U.S. counterparts about the Canada-U.S. border, and that “until conditions on both sides of the border change very substantively, the measures at our borders will remain intact.”
Last week, during his May 11 COVID-19 briefing, Trudeau said that 75 – 80% of Canadians would need to have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine before public health measures could potentially be eased, without going into further details. A “one-dose summer”, as he put it, could at least allow for some easing of restrictions here at home, and that if all goes well, a “two-dose fall” could bring Canada even closer to normal life.
To get a ‘one-dose summer’, two things have to happen, said Trudeau: “Cases need to go way down, and at least 75% of Canadians need to have had their first dose.”
Earlier this month Trudeau said “perhaps this summer if everything goes well”, in his response to a question about Canadians travelling, however there was no indication if that was internationally or just within Canada. Currently most provinces still have interprovincial border restrictions in place.
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