When will Canada reopen the border?

Shelby Thevenot
Published: July 6, 2021

Canada has renewed travel restrictions every month since the pandemic hit, but this July might be different.

The federal government is now saying 75 per cent of Canadians need to be fully vaccinated before the border reopens. The latest government data show that 31 per cent of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated, and 76 per cent have at least one dose.

Canada's vaccine Procurement Minister Anita Anand, told CBC news that 80 per cent of Canadians are expected to be fully vaccinated by the end of July.

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The Toronto Star reports there is more than a 50 per cent chance Canada will reach that threshold in that time frame.

In addition to vaccination coverage, officials will also be watching other indicators to help make decisions on reopening the border. These include case counts, hospitalization rates, local outbreaks, variants of concern, and the coronavirus situation in other countries.

In late June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also suggested that Canada would lift more travel restrictions in the coming weeks.

Canada's current travel restrictions are set to expire on July 21. Although the government has the power to roll over travel restrictions for another month, it seems unlikely that they will be as strict. That is, as long as case counts and hospitalizations go down while the number of vaccinated Canadians goes up. The feds are facing pressure on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border to reopen recreational travel. The calls are especially loud in the tourism industry and border towns whose economies have suffered from the closure.

Trudeau's government has made it clear that public opinion takes a back seat to science on this matter, though their science seems to be at odds with other regions. For example, Quebec does not recommend those who have been previously infected with coronavirus to receive a second vaccine. Yet, Canada requires two doses of an approved vaccine to consider someone "fully vaccinated."

The prime minister had told reporters the federal government was not ready to make that distinction on the date the quarantine measures were rolled back for fully vaccinated travellers. Quebec's premiere, Fraçois Legault, said it is not clear if Quebecers who fall under the province's definition of "fully vaccinated" would be exempt from quarantine.

As these discussions continue, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam echoed Trudeau's cautious optimism. At a June 25 press conference, she cautioned that opening too fast could potentially lead to more cases.

“Careful reopening is important — that will help keep virus levels low,” Tam told reporters. “Summer is looking pretty good.”

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