Last week, Canada extended the travel ban for all direct passenger and business flights from India until July 21, 2021.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer had said that the variant in India shows increased transmissibility.
The initial travel ban for both of the South Asian countries was due to end on May 22, but it was extended another 30 days. It was lifted for Pakistan on June 21.
“Given the number of COVID-19 cases continue to be very high in India, we have extended our flight restrictions for this country,” Omar Alghabra, Canada’s transport minister said, “We will continue to assess the evolving situation and determine appropriate action going forward.
Canada recently expanded its travel exemptions to holders of a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) document. This means that holders of a valid COPR can travel to Canada. Those who hold an expired COPR will have to wait until Canada announces how they can renew their documents.
COPR holders were not among exempted individuals when Canada imposed its travel restrictions in March 2020.
In addition, Canada eased its quarantine requirements on fully vaccinated travellers who are already exempt from travel restrictions beginning on July 5, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. These travellers will still need to take a COVID-19 test pre- and upon arrival. However, they will not need to stay at a government-approved hotel, and will not need to quarantine. In addition, they are not required to take a COVID-19 test on day-8.
Canadians and permanent residents and their family members, valid COPR holders, some temporary foreign workers as well as international students who attend a designated learning institution that has a COVID-19 readiness plan are exempt from the current travel restrictions and are allowed to travel to Canada.
Canada takes into account the daily COVID-19 case counts, both in Canada and abroad, as well as the percentage of the population who have received a dose of the vaccine. It also considers the rising cases of COVID-19 variants.
Last week, Bill Blair, Canada’s minister of public safety, said that the Canadian government is working steadily towards a phased reopening of the border, but that to reach the “finish line”, about 75 per cent of Canadians will need to be fully vaccinated.
Canada’s COVID-19 situation has significantly improved. This is why Canada will begin its phased reopening plan by lifting the quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travellers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Canada will lift more restrictions in the coming weeks.
“We certainly hope… that we will have more good news about reopenings in the coming weeks but, of course, it depends on the vaccination rate, the COVID situation in general, the variants of concern and what’s happening elsewhere,” said Trudeau in French during a press conference on June 22.
Canada also takes the views of stakeholders into consideration. For example, it worked with designated learning institutions (DLIs), such as colleges and universities, and eased restrictions on study permit holders in October 2020.
Similarly, Canada will likely take the views of DLIs into account when it comes to India’s travel ban. Indian students account for some 30 per cent of all of Canada’s international students. September is when the majority of new study permit holders start their programs in Canada. Many students usually arrive in August.
Canada is also looking to pursue an ambition Immigration Levels Plan, as it seeks to welcome 401,000 new permanent residents this year. Some 20 per cent come from India each year.
Lifting the travel ban and allowing Indian travellers to come to Canada will be vital to achieving the immigration targets in support of Canada’s post-pandemic recovery.
Assuming positive trends continue in Canada and India, it is highly likely that the India travel ban will be lifted in July, and by August at the very latest.
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