Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is aiming to allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into Canada by mid-August.
Trudeau also says he told the premiers by phone that if the current vaccination rate remains on its current trajectory, fully vaccinated travellers from around the world could be arriving by early September.
The Prime Minister’s Office broke the news in a readout from today’s COVID-19 call with the premiers and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.
“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,” it reads.
“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.”
NEW: Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau tells Premiers if we stay on our current vaccination paths Canada could start allowing non-essential travel with the US for fully vaccinated people by mid-August and fully vaxxed travellers from all other countries by early September #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/KVi67mkQOU
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) July 16, 2021
Trudeau also boasted Canada is leading the G20 countries in vaccination rates, with 80 per cent of eligible Canadians having received at least one vaccine dose. More than half are fully vaccinated, Trudeau said.
It made for a discordant pair of messages: Canada musing openly about easing travel restrictions on U.S. citizens at the same time as the Delta variant is threatening to undermine hard-won progress against the pandemic south of the border.
“This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a briefing Friday.
The CDC is looking at a seven-day average of about 26,300 new cases per day, an increase of a whopping 70 per cent over the previous weeklong period, Walensky said. Daily COVID-19 deaths are also up by about 26 per cent, she added.
Pressure has been mounting on the federal government to continue to ease the restrictions at the border, which have been in effect since March of last year.
But as Trudeau is widely believed to be on his way to triggering a federal election campaign, the timing of reopening the border could be a factor in his thinking.
“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,” Trudeau’s office said in a readout of the call.
The reopening process has already begun: last week, the Canada Border Services Agency began exempting fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents from a 14-day quarantine requirement.
The restrictions, imposed by mutual agreement in March of last year as the pandemic began to hit hard, have been renewed on a monthly basis ever since. They are next set to expire on Wednesday.
It also says the first ministers expressed support for reopening, provided the process is accompanied by “clarity and predictability.”
They also discussed working “collaboratively” on some sort of vaccine credential and system to “enable Canadians to travel internationally with confidence.”