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Canada extending restrictions on non-essential international travel until July 21

Last Updated Jun 18, 2021 at 3:16 pm EDT

Canada and U.S. flags fly in the wind at the Douglas-Peace Arch border crossing, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The restrictions were set to expire on June 21 and will be extended until July 21

Blair says the government is “planning measures for fully vaccinated Canadians,” and details will be provided Monday

Canada is extending its border restrictions on non-essential international travel for another month.

The extended restrictions will include travel between Canada and the United States. The previous order was set to expire on June 21, it will now expire on July 21.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair made the announcement on Twitter on Friday morning.

Blair says the government is “planning measures for fully vaccinated Canadians,” and further details will be provided on Monday.

Blair says the government is “planning measures for fully vaccinated Canadians,” and further details will be provided on Monday.

The accelerated vaccine rollout in Canada is adding pressure to at least partially reopen the U.S. border after a fifteen-month shutdown.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada has yet to meet the vaccination targets to safely open the border when asked why the restrictions were extended once again.

“We are looking forward to getting back to normal as quickly as possible,” said Trudeau during a Friday morning virtual news conference from Rideau Cottage. “But we’re not out of this pandemic yet, we’re still seeing cases across the country and we want to get them down.”

Trudeau has previously said that it would take 75 per cent of Canadians with their first dose and 20 per cent of Canadians with two doses before restrictions can be lifted.

“We are sticking with our principle of doing everything necessary to keep Canadians safe even as we move forward on loosening restrictions in a responsible way,” said Trudeau.

“That’s what I talked with the premiers about last night and I can tell you there is tremendous focus on making sure we are doing this as quickly and safely as possible.”

Trudeau has also added the caveat that the outbreak needs to be at a stage where minor flare-ups can handled without risk of spreading more broadly.

The decision garnered immediate criticism from some American lawmakers, including the two Congressmen who co-chair the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group.

Western New York Democrat Brian Higgins and Michigan Republican Bill Huizenga decried the lack of transparency around the border talks as a disservice to residents on both sides of the border to see loved ones and renew business ties.

“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,” said the statement from duo.

Goldy Hyder, president of the Business Council of Canada, which represents Canada’s largest employers, called for a clearly articulated plan to reopen the border safely “so that friends and families can be reunited and businesses can welcome back travellers.”

Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the policy should be based on whether a traveller is vaccinated, not on nationality. He noted how France now allows Canadians and Americans to visit, which makes it easier to travel abroad than within this country and to our closest neighbour.

“We are the deer caught in the headlights, unable to move,” Beatty said in an interview. “What the government is doing flies in the face of science, of economics and good public policy.”

The government has already laid out its plans to lift restrictions for certain travellers arriving to Canada by air.

It says the first step will be to allow people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — and who are permitted to enter the country — to forego mandatory hotel quarantine.

Travellers will need to have been fully vaccinated 14 days or more before they arrive in Canada. The only vaccines that will be accepted will be those approved for use in Canada.

People will still be required to have a negative PCR test before boarding their flight to Canada and will still need to be tested upon arrival. People will be expected to quarantine until they get their negative test result back.

The federal government says it is confident the that airports in Canada will be prepared to start accepting an influx of travellers when the borders start to reopen for non-essential travel.

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says the government has been in contact with airlines and airports about the plan but says reopening may not happen as soon as the restrictions expire.

In a panel discussion on Thursday, Canadian tourism groups say tens of thousands of jobs are on the line and many businesses are relying on a tourism season this summer.