Shortly before the anniversary of the closure of the Canada-U.S. border, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday that he had no immediate plans to discuss lifting the ban on non-essential border traffic.
We’re all looking forward to traveling again, Trudeau told reporters at a news conference in Montreal on Monday. But I think we will all wait patiently for the health situation to allow us to ease restrictions on international borders. It will happen one day, but not today.
Optimism about a possible opening of bilateral borders is likely fueled by the recent increase in COVID-19 vaccination rates around the world, as well as the decline in the number of new cases occurring daily in the United States.
The infection may be less than at peak times, but it’s still a concern, as Vice notes. There are still an average of 53,992 new cases per day in the United States, and more than 3,000 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom and appears to be more contagious and at least 35% more deadly than previous strains of the virus, have been detected in Canada.
And while the U.S. has purchased a large amount of vaccine and President Joe Biden has quickly stepped up his efforts to make it available in all states, Canada’s efforts to purchase and distribute the vaccine have not been as successful.
According to CTV News, government and diplomatic officials in our northern neighbor are in no hurry to lift existing travel restrictions, largely because cross-border trade and key supply chains have remained largely intact.
Certainly, U.S. lawmakers, business leaders and government officials calling for the resumption of international travel are urging President Biden to continue negotiations on reopening the borders.
In January, two dozen U.S. politicians sent a letter to Biden asking him to prioritize working with the Canadian government to make more exceptions to current border restrictions on travelers and to develop a plan based on public health criteria that would reopen the land border between the U.S. and Canada to non-essential travel.
According to the CBC, neither U.S. nor Canadian authorities have a viable plan to reopen the border and get traffic moving again. In the absence of a pandemic as a precedent, there is no adequate plan to determine which public health indicators need to be met in order to safely resume cross-border traffic.
As Trudeau said yesterday, there will certainly come a time when a roadmap can be established to reopen the border, but not as long as COWID-19 continues to pose a serious threat to public health.
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