Easing of Canada’s border restrictions was a key topic during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call with Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers as they discussed their shared response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In a readout from the meeting, the Prime Minister indicated 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.”
He noted that discussions with the United States on reopening plans were ongoing and indicated that the country could expect to start allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into Canada as of mid-August for non-essential travel.
First Ministers expressed their support of reopening plans, and agreed on the importance of ensuring clarity and predictability as initial steps are taken.
And the Prime Minister indicated that ministers would share more details on these plans early next week.
Reacting to the Prime Minister’s comments, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s president and CEO, Beth Potter said that: “This is the first we’ve heard the Prime Minister speak with any definition about when the border might reopen – so yes, good news.”
Potter continued: “Now let’s pick the dates so that businesses can work towards that and be ready to capture as much of the remaining summer season as possible. In the meantime, Canadians need to continue to get vaccinated so reopening the border can become a reality.”
NACC Encouraged, But A Plan Is Still Needed
National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) president and CEO, Mike McNaney, said that: “We are encouraged by the Prime Minister’s statement as our industry has repeatedly called on the federal government to release a comprehensive restart plan and timeline, and we expect the government to publicly confirm the details as soon as possible.”
McNaney continued: “Over the past few weeks, our members have posted updated timetables and invested in restoring capacity, to allow for a quick and safe restart once border policy changes.”
He points out that: “As border measures are adjusted, the government should follow clear recommendations released in May by Health Canada’s Expert Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Testing and Screening, including the elimination of quarantine. at the hotel for unvaccinated travellers. The government should also eliminate the quarantine requirement for minors.”
McNaney said that: “While the Prime Minister’s comments provide a general timeline, we are very close to losing the entire summer travel season. We look forward to urgent engagement with the federal government over the next few days and the release of a detailed action plan.”
ACTA Pleased, Also Applauds Return Of Cruising Announcement
ACTA president, Wendy Paradis said that: “ACTA is pleased to hear the announcements from the federal government this week that fully vaccinated Americans might be allowed into Canada later in August and fully vaccinated international visitors in September. This is in line with what ACTA has been hearing from contacts in the government.”
Paradis also made it clear that the industry association was ‘very pleased’ with Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra’s announcement that Canada was lifting the “cruise ban from Canadian waters on Nov. 1, 2021.”
Said Paradis: “This sends a very clear message to cruise lines to include Canada in their 2022 itineraries and to the US Senators who are advocating for permanent changes that would enable cruise ships to circumvent Canada.”
ACTA’s president continued: “All these steps are extremely important to our industry and towards the easing of blanket travel advisories for all non-essential travel and cruise travel altogether.”
And Paradis concluded: “ACTA will continue to lobby for a clear plan forward so that the industry can plan for a full re-opening.”
The meeting also saw the First Ministers discuss the importance of working collaboratively on a proof of vaccination credential and prioritizing work to implement a system that would enable Canadians to travel internationally with confidence.
The group also reiterated its commitment to a collaborative approach to ending the COVID-19 pandemic and reopening Canada’s economy.