Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has begun initial internal discussions about reopening the border with the United States, even as Canada remains lagging behind its neighbor on vaccines.
Three people familiar with the matter said that senior officials have started to formally talk about options for how to proceed. One of the questions being considered is whether a two-way system should be used in which the quarantine and testing requirements of vaccinated travelers should be alleviated.
The world’s longest international border has been closed since March 2020 for most non-essential travel, resulting in a significant reduction in ground and air traffic between the two countries. The restrictions severely affected the country’s aviation and tourism sectors in particular. One estimate is that these measures cost these industries approximately 20 billion Canadian dollars (16.5 billion US dollars) in revenue last year.
Michael said, “In the end, it is a political decision, and at what point does the Canadian side do, and slow at this stage, the Canadian side has decided that it is ready for the reception and what are the categories of people to open up.” Kergin, former Canadian ambassador to the United States, in a phone interview. “Re-opening in stages would be the logical approach.”
Officials said any reopening of the border would be gradual and depend on a decline in cases in both countries.
Delay in vaccinations
The third wave of the epidemic has hit the northern country in its most severe form due to the vaccination campaign, which has been disrupted by supply problems and delayed shipping. Several Canadian provinces remain under prolonged lockdown even as the country ramps up its vaccination campaign.
Officials said the reopening of the border is not likely to be imminent and discussions in the government are only just beginning. According to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, 34.1% of Canadian residents received a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and only 2.7% were fully vaccinated, compared to 46.6% and 35.8%, respectively.
It is unlikely that most Canadians will be fully vaccinated until September, Trudeau said.