Canada is looking to ease COVID-19-related travel restrictions at the U.S.-Canada border as soon as June 22. According to Politico, Jim Diodati, mayor of Niagara Falls, said the news was shared by Canada’s public safety minister, Bill Blair, during a virtual meeting on May 28 with other mayors of border cities in Ontario. The land borders have been closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

According to the report, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wants at least 75 percent of Canada’s population to have received their first COVID vaccine doses and 20 percent should be fully vaccinated before the country begins to ease public health restrictions, which would include reopening its borders. According to The New York Times, 63 percent of the population has received at least one dose but only 8.5 percent are fully vaccinated. That said, Drew Dilkens, the mayor of Windsor, Ontario (located across the Detroit River from Detroit), reported that Blair expects Canada to reach the proper thresholds by June 21.

For current travel to Canada, you may only enter the country for essential reasons. Travelers must test for COVID-19 in advance and quarantine for a minimum of 14 days upon arrival, regardless of vaccination status. 

A Collaborative Approach

In related news, the Biden Administration is forming “expert working groups” to determine how to best and safely restart travel with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom, according to Reuters. There was no timeline for the reopening of travel but the report said the U.S. “will not move quickly…because of the time it will take for the groups to do their work.”

The groups will be led by the White House COVID Response Team and the National Security Council and will include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other U.S. agencies.

Reuters adds that Biden has heard from lawmakers in border towns who noted the economic hardships their communities are going through due to the prolonged border closure. Similarly, the CEOs of all airlines that offer U.K.-U.S. passenger services have called for the reopening of transatlantic travel. This included leaders of American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

Trade Response

U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow issued the following statement on the formation of the “working groups” to determine the path to reopening international travel: “This announcement marks an important step forward in our national recovery from the pandemic.

“U.S. Travel and its membership believe a public-private task force can quickly develop a blueprint to reopen international inbound travel and jumpstart a sustained jobs and economic recovery. With decreased infection rates in the U.S. combined with the administration’s goal of having a critical mass of Americans fully vaccinated by July 4, there is a true near-term opportunity to safely begin to welcome back international visitors.

“International travel can be safely restarted by applying a risk-based and science-driven approach, and our hope is that the working groups are able to put a reopening framework in place very quickly.

“The travel industry commends the Biden Administration for taking this critical and necessary step on the international front, and we look forward to working with the federal government in every way possible to advance this process.”

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