TORONTO – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that Canada could begin allowing fully vaccinated Americans to Canada from mid-August for non-essential travel and should be able to accommodate fully vaccinated travelers from all countries by early September.
Trudeau spoke to leaders of Canada’s provinces and his office released a reading of the appeal. He noted that if the current positive trajectory in immunization rates and Canada’s public health conditions continue, the border may open.
“Canada would be able to accommodate fully vaccinated travelers from all countries by early September,” the text said. He noted the ongoing discussions with the United States on plans to reopen and indicated that we might expect to begin allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents to Canada from mid-August for non-essential travel. “
Trudeau noted that Canada continues to lead the G20 countries in terms of vaccination rates with about 80% of eligible Canadians vaccinated with their first dose and over 50% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated. He said the number of cases and serious illnesses continued to decline across the country as vaccination rates continued to rise.
At the start of the pandemic, the US and Canadian governments closed the more than 5,500 mile (8,800 kilometer) border to non-essential traffic. With vaccination rates rising and infection rates falling, some were upset that the two governments had not made detailed plans to fully reopen the border.
Canada began easing restrictions earlier this month, allowing fully vaccinated Canadians or legal permanent residents to return to Canada without quarantine. But among the requirements is a negative test for the virus before they return, and another once they return.
Pressure is mounting on Canada to continue to ease border restrictions, which have been in place since March of last year.
Offering exemptions for travel to Canada amid the pandemic is politically sensitive and Trudeau is expected to call a federal election next month.
Trudeau said his ministers would share more details on the border early next week.
Commercial traffic has been returning normally between the two countries since the start of the pandemic. Canadians can travel to the United States with a negative COVID-19 test.
The US Travel Association estimates that each month the border is closed costs $ 1.5 billion. Canadian officials say Canada welcomed about 22 million foreign visitors in 2019, including about 15 million from the United States.
Tom Webb, a 63-year-old retired US Navy pilot from Orchard Park, New York, said he was seriously considering selling his cabin in Georgian Bay, Ont. not having had access to it for almost two years. He’s vaccinated. “I am more than frustrated,” he said.
Canadian officials have said they would like 75% of eligible Canadian residents to be fully immunized before easing border restrictions for tourists and business travelers. The Canadian government expects enough vaccines to be delivered for 80% of eligible Canadians to be fully immunized by the end of July. The United States did not allow vaccine exports to Canada until early May.
Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays are hoping to secure an exemption to allow home games to be played in Toronto starting July 30. Allowing unvaccinated players to enter the country remains a sticking point, but protocols will be put in place. The Blue Jays played home games during the shortened 2020 season in Buffalo, New York and started that season in Dunedin, Fla., Before moving to Buffalo.
The Canadian government has not allowed the team to play at home in Toronto due to the risk of the spread of COVID-19, citing frequent travel required to the United States during a baseball season.