US-Canada border restrictions extended until July 21

Rob Gillies
Associated Press

Toronto — Canada’s public safety minister said Friday border restrictions on nonessential travel with the United States will be extended until July 21.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair tweeted the move has been made in coordination with the U.S. He said Canada’s No. 1 priority is to keep Canadians safe during the pandemic.

Blair noted the government plans to release details Monday about fully vaccinated Canadians who return to the country. The Canadian government has said it anticipates fully vaccinated Canadian citizens who test negative for COVID-19 will be exempt from two weeks of quarantine when returning to the country sometime in early July.

The border between Canada and the U.S. remains closed to all nonessential travel. The restrictions were announced in March 2020 in the early months of the pandemic and have been extended every month since.

The co-chairs of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group, U.S. Reps. Bill Huizenga, a Holland Republican, and Brian Higgins, a New York Democrat, criticized the extension of border restrictions for another month.

The pair lamented the lack of transparency in regards to negotiations between the U.S. and Canada as "a disservice to our constituents and the millions of residents on both sides of the border waiting to see their loved ones, visit their property, and renew business ties."

“Millions of Americans and Canadians are counting on our governments to work together to reach an agreement that provides a clear roadmap for reopening the border between our two nations," Huizenga and Higgins said Friday in a joint statement.

The tanker Lee A. Tregurtha is seen piloting under the Blue Water Bridge on the Saint Clair River in Port Huron, October 20, 2020.

"While the arrival of vaccines in record time has been a modern marvel, the inability of the U.S. and Canadian governments to reach an agreement on alleviating border restrictions or aligning additional essential traveler classes is simply unacceptable."

There are growing calls in the U.S. to open the Canada-U.S. border for nonessential travel like tourism, but less than 20% of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated now.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has said she would like to see 75% of eligible Canada residents fully vaccinated before advising that border restrictions be loosened for tourists and business travelers who aren’t citizens or permanent residents.

The Canadian government expects to have enough vaccine delivered for 80% of eligible Canadians to be fully vaccinated by the end of July.

Canada had largely been getting vaccines from Europe, until Pfizer exports from the U.S. began arriving in May.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. had delivered a million vaccine doses to Canada on Thursday.

About 70% of eligible Canadians have had at least one dose of vaccine, and second doses are ramping up this month and next.

The government also expects in early July to eliminate the need for fully vaccinated Canadian air travelers to spend three days quarantining in an authorized hotel upon arriving in the country. Travelers will have to be fully vaccinated 14 days or more prior to arrival.

Currently, air travelers are required to spend three days in quarantine at a hotel at their expense on arrival and then complete their two weeks of self-isolation.

Air travelers will still be required to take a COVID-19 test before arriving as well as on arrival, and remain in isolation until the second test comes back negative.