Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is seeking feedback from premiers and territorial leaders on how and when to ease restrictions on international travel to Canada.
“We should have an announcement in a week to come, but I want to hear [feedback] because, obviously, different regions, different premiers have different perspectives on this,” Mr. Trudeau told the media at an aviation news conference in Montreal on Thursday.
The Prime Minister, scheduled to hold a conference call with provincial and territorial leaders later on Thursday, said he was concerned about putting at risk the progress made on health and safety over the past year and a half.
“But we have to give clarity, we have to provide predictability to the [travel] industry and to travellers. That is important. So we will talk about this tonight.”
The border is closed to leisure travel until at least July 21.
In a statement following the evening meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office said non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border could begin in mid-August for fully vaccinated travellers.
“The Prime Minister noted that, if our current positive path of vaccination rate and public health conditions continue, Canada would be in a position to welcome fully vaccinated travellers from all countries by early September,” the readout said. “He noted the ongoing discussions with the United States on reopening plans, and indicated that we could expect to start allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into Canada as of mid-August for non-essential travel.”
Mr. Trudeau has been urged to relax the COVID-19 restrictions that have closed the Canada-U.S. land border to non-essential travellers since March 21, 2020.
Business groups want Mr. Trudeau to reopen the border to all fully vaccinated foreign travelers because of the major economic impact on the tourism sector.
At the news conference with Mr. Trudeau, Quebec Premier François Legault offered his views on how to proceed.
He said Quebec has an “important condition,” namely that it requires proof that the people who travel, whether Canadians returning from abroad or others, have had two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
Mr. Legault proposed a gradual reopening – with the U.S. border first in coming weeks “to look at how things go,” followed by broader international travel – with the condition there be a vaccination passport.
The Premier said Quebec is ready to collaborate with the federal government on such a passport.
In another shift in policy, the federal government said the end of the cruise-ship ban will be moved up to November from February, 2022.
Cruise ships haven’t been allowed in Canadian waters or ports for more than a year because of COVID-19, but Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Canada will welcome ships back starting Nov. 1 in light of declining case numbers and a rising vaccination rate.
Also Thursday, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, Howard Njoo said the Toronto Blue Jays’ return to Canadian soil is “trending in a very good direction.”
Dr. Njoo said the government has had “a lot of good back-and-forth” with the Blue Jays organization over the team’s application for a national-interest exemption to Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions.
But he told a virtual news conference he couldn’t provide a date for an announcement.
With a report from The Canadian Press.
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