Sunday,  July 25, 2021  1:56 am

On relaxing travel rules further: “We’re talking weeks, not months,” Trudeau says

On relaxing travel rules further: “We’re talking weeks, not months,” Trudeau says
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on June 22, 2021.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

On the further easing of Canada’s travel restrictions and border measures with the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will have more “good news” to share soon.

“We’re doing things gradually, but we’re talking weeks, not months anymore,” Trudeau, speaking in French, told reporters on Tuesday (June 22).

The Prime Minister remarks came one day after the Liberal government announced changes to federal quarantine rules for fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents.

The new policy means that, starting July 5 at 11:59 p.m., eligible travellers can enter Canada without undergoing quarantine or taking a COVID-19 test on day eight.

READ MORE: Travel restrictions easing July 5 for fully vaxxed; “separate lines” coming to airports

Those arriving by air, if fully vaccinated and permitted to enter Canada, will also no longer be forced to stay at a government-authorized hotel.

Travellers must use the ArriveCAN app to show a receipt proving they have received a full, Canada-approved vaccine at least 14 days prior to entering the country.

The new policy does not apply to tourists or foreign business travellers that aren’t essential workers.

READ MORE: “It's about to get very busy”: Travel pros react to Ottawa easing restrictions for fully-vaxxed travellers

Border restrictions for foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, are in place until at least July 21.

Addressing media from Rideau Cottage, Trudeau, as he has said before, explained that vaccination rates and low COVID-19 case counts, including the spread of variants, will determine next steps for reopening travel.

“I understand the impatience people have to get travelling again, but keeping Canadians safe has been and will continue to be our number one priority,” Trudeau said.

Under the new policy, vaccinated travellers must still undergo pre and on-arrival PCR testing, be asymptomatic and have a suitable quarantine plan prepared.

There are no changes to border and quarantine rules for travellers who are not fully vaccinated.

“We are looking at continuing our plan for a gradual and safe reopening – hopefully with more announcements in the coming weeks about next and further steps,” Trudeau said.

The Prime Minister said his government will be “cautious and responsible” in its decisions. 

In the coming weeks...

So, does this mean the Canada-U.S. land border will reopen in a few weeks?

There will be answers “in the coming weeks,” Trudeau said, speaking in French, but “of course, there are no guarantees.”

Monday’s announcement on easing travel restrictions came after Canada, this past weekend, passed a key threshold in COVID-19 vaccination numbers.

The target for easing border measures is to get 75 per cent of Canadians vaccinated with the first dose and at least 20 per cent vaccinated with a second dose, Trudeau told reporters last week.

Calls for a restart plan

While generally viewed as a positive step forward in restarting the travel industry, the government's plan has been subject to criticism as well. 

The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) says Ottawa's continued non-essential travel advisories and restrictions "offer little hope of recovery this summer.”

“ACTA continues to call for a clear, science-based plan that lays a path forward for easing travel advisories and restrictions based on vaccination and case-count metrics," the association said on Monday, repeating its call for enhanced financial aid for travel advisors. 

Mike McNaney, president & CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), which represents Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation and WestJet, also had this to say: 

“Easing quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated Canadians and eligible travellers is a step in the right direction, but falls far short of the recommendations provided by Health Canada’s Expert Advisory Panel report released last month,” he said. 

“The government continues to refuse to provide Canadians with a clear and comprehensive restart plan outlining how measures from the report will be adopted.”


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