Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signalled that he’d like to see 75 per cent of Canadians be fully vaccinated before the border restrictions are lift and right now, that number sits at a little less than 15 per cent.
And while there is a lot of pressure from the travel industry and politicians in border communities to re-open the frontier, a poll released by Angus Reid three weeks ago showed that nearly half of Canadians want it to remain closed until the fall (27%) or until the end of the year ( 21%).
Trudeau is set to discuss the issue with provincial and territorial leaders on Thursday.
The federal government has said it is ready to relax entry requirements for Canadian citizens in July who are fully vaccinated with vaccines that are recognized in Canada, which means anyone who has been vaccinated with the likes of Sinovax or Sputnik would not be eligible.
Some are wondering if the U.S. may turn the tables on Canadians with a similar restriction that requires they be fully vaccinated before entry. The trouble is many Canadians, not to mention much of the population of the United Kingdom, are vaccinated with AstraZeneca, a vaccine that is not recognized for use in the United States.
On Monday, the Canadian federal government will likely renew the closure of the border with the United States, but this time it might come with an indication as to when it will finally be re-opened for good.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Tuesday that Canadians can expect an announcement by next Monday on the easing of pandemic travel restrictions, but he warned that the rules won’t necessarily be relaxed immediately, but rather in a phased manner.
Estimates as to when the border will be re-opened range from Canada Day to Thanksgiving.
In an online forum organized by Politico, Representative. Brian Higgins predicted a Canada Day celebration at the Peace Bridge on July 1 where U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would meet to reopen the border.
“I think that would be a great demonstration of binational agreement, recognizing the good work of public health officials who guided us through this – and we’re just following their recommendations,” Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat, said.
Another panelist was asked when the border might reopen and she thought September was more likely. “Politics always makes these estimates difficult, but I’m going to guess before the U.S. Labor Day,” said Laurie Trautman, director of the Border Policy Research Institute at the University of Western Washington.
The most pessimistic prediction was Thanksgiving and it came from Representative Bill Huizenga, a Michigan Republican and co-chair of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group, although he didn’t specify whether he meant Canadian Thanksgiving Day, which is October 11 this year, or American Thanksgiving, which is on November 25.
As the vaccination numbers go up in Canada and COVID infections fall, the pressure is growing on the federal government to re-open the border with the U.S.
Global News reported Tuesday that western premiers will pressure Trudeau this week to release a detailed plan and timeline to reopen Canada’s international borders.
“There’s absolute consensus that we want to get back as quickly as possible to whatever normal will be, but we also expect the federal government to be leading on that question,” said British Columbia Premier John Horgan.
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