Trudeau resists corporate pressure to open US border for the summer

Non-essential travel between the United States and Canada will be banned for another month despite growing pressure from businesses to ease travel restrictions linked to COVID-19.

Justin Trudeau’s border chief announced an extension of current border rules until at least July 21 in a tweet Friday morning. The world’s longest undefended border has been closed to most travel since March 2020, when it was closed in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair also said restrictions on travel to other countries will continue, but added that the Canadian government will begin to flesh out exemptions for fully vaccinated travelers on Monday.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press via AP

Friday’s announcement comes as airlines, tour operators and other businesses call on governments on both sides of the border to begin reopening, as the vital summer season is about to begin.

“It’s disappointing because it flies in the face of science and is unfair to Canadians who are denied the opportunity to travel, and it obviously hurts us very economically as well,” said Perrin Beatty, Speaker of the House. of Commerce, in a telephone interview. “This is another nail in the coffin for the summer tourist season for Canadians.

The tourism industry has been one of the sectors hardest hit by travel restrictions linked to the pandemic. On the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, Ontario, the total number of visitors halved last year, and businesses are desperate not to lose another season.

“We have 14 million visitors a year, and of that 30 percent are from the United States. We know that with the border closed, 30 percent have gone to zero,” Janice Thomson, President, said by phone. from Niagara Falls Tourism, adding the region. less than 8 million visitors in 2020.

Now that vaccines are widely administered in the United States and Canada, business groups are calling for a clear plan on reopening the border.

Vaccination rates are one of the main criteria the Trudeau government is considering before allowing more non-essential travel. About 65 percent of Canadians received their first dose, according to data compiled by CTV News, while the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker shows that 53 percent of U.S. residents have received a single injection.

Canada’s decision to prioritize first doses, however, created a gap on full immunizations: about 45 percent of Americans received two doses, compared to just 16 percent in Canada.

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