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Canada plans to let American tourists who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the country starting August 9, according to the government, ending a 16-month ban on most non-essential travel between the two countries.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government said Monday that U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to travelling would be allowed into Canada without having to quarantine.
Canada and the U.S. – which share the longest international land border in the world – shut down most non-essential travel in March 2020 amid rising coronavirus infections.
Businesses in both nations, particularly the travel and airline industries, had demanded an end to the restrictions.
The Canadian government said vaccinated visitors from countries other than the U.S. will be permitted to enter Canada beginning on September 7, saying that the relaxation depends on COVID-19 cases remaining low.
“Canadians’ safety and security always come first,” Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in Monday’s statement.
“With rising vaccination rates and fewer cases in Canada, we can begin to safely ease border measures. A gradual approach to reopening will allow our health authorities to monitor the COVID-19 situation here and abroad. Canadians have worked hard and sacrificed for each other, and because of that work, we can take these next steps safely,” she explained.
According to White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday, “We are continuing to review our travel decisions and we’ll be guided by our public health and medical experts. I wouldn’t look at it through a reciprocal intention.”
Trudeau told reporters on Monday afternoon that Canada has kept Washington apprised of its plans to lift restrictions on U.S. travelers. “We will continue to work with them but understand and respect that every country makes its own decisions about what it does at its borders,” he said.
U.S. health officials, however, have warned of a recent rise in COVID-19 infections, with Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy saying on Sunday that nearly all COVID-related deaths in the country now are among the tens of millions of people who have not been vaccinated.
“I am worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated, in particular,” Murthy said in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union news programme.
“And while, if you are vaccinated, you are very well protected against hospitalisation and death, unfortunately, that is not true if you are not vaccinated.”
The U.S. now has more than 34.1 million cases and over 609,100 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. In Canada, over 26,400 people have died and more than 1.43 million cases have been recorded.