Canada closed its borders to nonessential travel last March. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been slow to commit to when Canada’s border with the United States will reopen to tourists. It is being reported now that Trudeau’s office announced that Americans may be allowed into Canada for tourist or recreational activities as soon as mid-August. It all depends on Canada’s vaccination rate.
Canadian and U.S. officials are in talks again about reopening the border to non-essential travel. These talks have occurred regularly for months. The hold-up is the level of success each country has in vaccinating its people against COVID-19. The border was closed in March 2020 to mitigate the spread of the pandemic. Since then vaccines have been produced and distributed. The roll-out in Canada, however, has been very slow. Last month, both countries agreed to extend the ban on nonessential crossings for a 30-day period which ends on July 21.
The Canadian vaccine distribution efforts are going at an accelerated pace now. With that in mind, Trudeau said that non-essential border crossings will be allowed for fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents in mid-August. He said that Canada will be in a position to welcome fully vaccinated travelers from all countries by early September.
Trudeau is under pressure to reopen the border by politicians and business leaders.
This marks the first time Canada has identified a time frame for lifting border restrictions. Business groups in Canada, border-city mayors and some frequent cross-border travelers say they have grown impatient with what they perceive to be a go-slow approach from the Canadian government, despite some meaningful progress in the country’s fight against Covid-19.
U.S. lawmakers in Congress, among them Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), have either pressed Canadian officials to reconsider their border measures, or have criticized Canada’s resistance to reopening the border, given the close economic and social ties between the two North American countries. And this week, France’s ambassador to Canada said Canada should allow fully vaccinated French citizens into the country.
With Canada’s vaccination campaign fully underway, the country now leads the developed world in the share of the population partially vaccinated. 70% of Canadians have received one dose of a vaccine. 46% of the population is fully vaccinated. In comparison, 48% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. All along, Trudeau and other Canadian officials said they want the level of fully vaccinated Canadians to be at 75% by the time border restrictions are lifted.
Mark Agnew, vice president of policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest business group, said the plan for a mid-August reopening of the U.S. border marked a welcome development for businesses that get most of their sales in the summer.
The U.S. Travel Association has estimated that the American economy loses $1.5 billion for each month that travel between the U.S. and Canada remains at a standstill.
So, that’s good news for vaccinated Americans who want to travel to Canada later this summer. But what about our other border? Think twice about traveling to Mexico for a summer vacation says the CDC. If you do travel to Mexico, go fully vaccinated and be alert to the increase in crime in many areas. The State Department is piggybacking on the CDC’s warnings for tourists.
The United States Centers for Disease Control issued a Level 3 travel advisory for Mexico on Monday, warning citizens of high rates of Covid-19 infections and advising that they reconsider travel to Mexico.
Coronavirus cases have spiked in Mexico, with more than 11,000 new cases recorded on Tuesday as the third wave of the pandemic continues to grow. The federal Health Ministry reported 11,137 new infections – the highest single-day tally since early February, although hospitalizations and deaths are down 75% due to vaccination.
The U.S. Department of State’s advisory stated that dangers associated with Covid-19 could be lower for vaccinated travelers. “Your risk of contracting Covid-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine,” it read.
Aside from Covid-19, the Department of State also cautions against traveling to some states due to crime. U.S. citizens are instructed not to travel to Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas due to crime and kidnapping.
Authorities also urge people to reconsider visiting a further 11 states and advocate the exercise of increased caution for another 14. Only taking normal precautions is advised for just two states: Yucatán and Campeche.
Advisories on travel to Mexico are improving. In April, Mexico was one of 80% of the world’s countries on the State Department’s list of “Level 4: Do Not Travel”. Now it has been downgraded to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” as of early last month. Just something to keep in mind as the summer vacation season continues for many Americans.