Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that Canada has no plans to open its borders to unvaccinated tourists in the foreseeable future because the pandemic isn’t over yet.
“That’s not going to happen for quite a while,” Trudeau told a news conference in Coquitlam, B.C. “We’re not quite out of this pandemic yet. We still have to be careful, we still have to be vigilant.”
Canada has relaxed some of its border restrictions in recent weeks as COVID-19 case counts and other health metrics have steadily improved since the spring.
For example, the country no longer requires fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the country.
However, fully vaccinated international tourists are not yet permitted to enter the country, though officials have said that restriction will soon be coming to an end.
“We are going to make sure we are moving forward on that in the coming weeks,” Trudeau said. He did not offer a specific date.
“We have to make sure, however, every step of the way that we are not sliding back, that we are not having to re-close, not having to go yo-yoing again in our openings and closings.”
Travel restrictions between Canada and the United States preventing all non-essential trips, including tourism, are also set to remain in place until at least July 21.
The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, a national advocacy group, is urging the federal government to release a “comprehensive” border re-opening plan before sending Canadians to the polls.
The Liberal government is widely expected to call a federal election sometime in the late summer or early fall. That prospect is raising concerns that Canada’s struggling tourism sector could be left in limbo for months to come.
“We all know that an election means a pause on all government activity. Canadians and Canadian businesses deserve to know what re-opening looks like long before a federal election is called,” said Perrin Beatty, the group’s president and CEO, in a media statement.
Beatty’s organization estimates that Canada’s tourism industry accounts for $102 billion in economic activity annually.