Shomporko Online News Desk: The border between Canada and the United States will stay closed for at least another month because of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Bill Blair, the federal minister of public safety.
“In conjunction with the United States, we are extending limitations on non-essential overseas travel and with the United States until July 21st, 2021,” Blair said on Twitter.
“The government is contemplating measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents, and those who are now permitted to enter Canada,” Blair said in his statement.
He stated that more information will be released on June 21.
The announcement comes a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and premiers met to discuss the possibility of opening the land border between Canada and the U.S., which has been closed for non-essential travel since March 2020.
The ban, which does not cover trade or travel by air, has been rolled over several times. The current restrictions were to expire on June 21.
As vaccines ramp up and COVID-19 numbers decline throughout the country, there has been pressure from provincial premiers to loosen border restrictions.
Trudeau addressed this on Friday at a press conference, acknowledging the ongoing border closure “is frustrating.”
He explained that although fully vaccinated Canadians wanting to travel may be protected against hospitalizations, “it does not protect the community around you from catching COVID-19 from you.”
“You are still returning to a country where we haven’t yet reached a high enough threshold of second dose vaccination,” Trudeau said. “We are getting there, but that’s why we are looking at a phased approach to easing border restrictions.”
Trudeau it would take 75 percent of Canadians getting a first dose and 20 per cent receiving a second before rules can be loosened.
The decision garnered immediate criticism from some American lawmakers, including the two Congressmen who co-chair the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group.
Western New York Democrat Brian Higgins and Michigan Republican Bill Huizenga decried the lack of transparency around the border talks as a disservice to residents on both sides of the border to see loved ones and renew business ties.
“While the arrival of vaccines in record time has been a modern marvel, the inability of the U.S. and Canadian governments to reach an agreement on alleviating border restrictions or aligning additional essential traveler classes is simply unacceptable,” said the statement.
When border restrictions do start lifting, there most likely will be a need for vaccine passports, Trudeau said.
In terms of proof of vaccines for Canadians who want to travel, he said the federal government is working on “two tracks.”
The Arrive Can app, which lets travelers to digitally transmit contact and quarantine information, would be used in the first phase, he said.
“The initial phase will be to have people upload a photograph of their vaccination evidence so border officers may check on their return to Canada,” Trudeau said, adding that further information will be available in the following weeks.
Trudeau also stated that the federal government is collaborating with provinces to “establish a national certification of vaccination standard,” which may be completed by the fall.