Ottawa Moves Forward With Plans To Reopen U.S. Border
May 24, 2021 at 03:13 AM EDT
Ottawa Moves Forward With Plans To Reopen U.S. Border The federal government in Ottawa has begun to work with their counterparts in Washington, D.C. to ease travel restrictions and reopen the Canada-U.S. border. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc said that U.S. and Canadian officials are discussing how to move forward with reopening the world’s longest international border, which has been closed to non-essential travel for more than a year to curb the spread of Covid-19. His comments come after federal officials began holding internal discussions about options available to loosen travel rules as vaccination rates rise and Covid-19 case counts fall on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. Canada Transport Minister Omar Alghabra highlighted benchmarks officials are using in their consideration of easing border restrictions, such as the ban on direct flights from India and Pakistan that has been extended by a month. Alghabra said the government is assessing the situation both in Canada and abroad, specifically the number of infections and hospitalizations, the spread of variants and vaccination rates. Canada closed the border it shares with its largest trading partner to all non-essential travel in March 2020. It later imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country from abroad. Travelers must now present a negative Covid-19 test and foot the bill for additional tests and a three-day hotel quarantine before being allowed to leave confinement. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that a 75% vaccination rate is a key threshold when asked about potentially reopening the border. Almost 40% of Canadians have received a first dose vaccine, but just over 3% are fully inoculated against Covid-19. By comparison, more than 48% of Americans have had their first shot and 38% are fully vaccinated.