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Fully vaccinated U.S. citizens to be allowed in Canada by mid-August, Trudeau says – Toronto Star

Travellers from other countries could be allowed in by early September “if our current positive path of vaccination rate and public health conditions continue,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

By Stephanie LevitzOttawa Bureau

Thu., July 15, 20213 min. read

Article was updated 7 hrs ago

OTTAWA—Fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents could be allowed into Canada as of mid-August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said late Thursday after a meeting with provincial premiers.

Travellers from other countries could be allowed in by early September “if our current positive path of vaccination rate and public health conditions continue,” Trudeau said in a statement following the meeting.

The news came after Trudeau had signalled earlier in the day he was prepared to put a plan to ease border measures on the table at the premiers’ meeting, and in turn before Canadians, ahead of the expiration of the current deal that governs the closure of the Canada-U.S. border.

During an event in Montreal, Trudeau had acknowledged the importance for tourists and business people to have clarity on when they’ll be able to enter Canada, and if the premiers were onside, “we’ll have an announcement to make next week,” he said in French.

He reiterated that pledge to the premiers Thursday night as well.

The current border closure agreement between Canada and the U.S. expires on Wednesday.

There have been ongoing demands to change its terms at the next monthly renewal of those restrictions, especially given the pace of vaccination in Canada.

No major changes are expected to go into effect on July 21, although some minor tweaks may be made.

Instead, the announcement about the new approach — likely on Monday — will be followed by changes scheduled to begin at a later date, multiple sources told the Star.

Although he didn’t divulge any details Thursday, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said that two-step approach — announce first, implement later — was the option being put forward to cabinet, and to the premiers.

“We do recognize, however, that Canadians are anxious and particularly in the domestic context, to be able to once again see family members and travel,” LeBlanc told a news conference.

“We hope that they can safely do so over the nice weeks of the summer ahead of us.”

Currently, only a small list of people are allowed into Canada if they’ve been abroad on non-essential travel: Canadian citizens, permanent residents, their family members and a few select other groups.

Appearing with Trudeau on Thursday, Quebec Premier François Legault had said he thinks the border ought to be first reopened to fully vaccinated Americans.

But, he added, Quebec wants an airtight way of proving they are fully vaccinated first.

Right now, arriving travellers who want to be exempt from quarantine must have received a full course of a vaccine approved for use in Canada, and enter that proof into the ArriveCan mobile application before they land.

If their proof of vaccination is accepted, they can avoid a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, provided they have a negative COVID-19 test before they leave for Canada, and one when they get here.

Trudeau said a handful of fully vaccinated travellers who have entered the country since new measures went into place earlier this month have tested positive for COVID-19.

The government has yet to release the full data on the positivity rate among incoming travellers.

It has also consistently refused to provide specific benchmarks it will use to determine when or how to roll back border restrictions.

Generally, Ottawa is keeping an eye on vaccinations, hospitalization rates, the death rate and overall case counts.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said Thursday the situation in Canada looks good on all fronts.

But, he said, internationally the picture is not so rosy and that’s why Canada still warns against non-essential travel abroad.

Even countries that have had success with vaccination programs are seeing a resurgence in cases and an imposition of lockdown measures, Njoo noted.

“So, I think all of that is sort of a part of the mix as we look at the data and give our best advice to the government.”