Canada to admit vaccinated U.S. tourists after more than 16 months
Canada on Monday said it would allow fully vaccinated U.S. tourists into the country starting from Aug. 9 after the COVID-19 pandemic forced an unprecedented 16-month ban that many businesses complained was crippling them, Reuters reported.
Inoculated visitors from countries other than the United States will be permitted to enter beginning on Sept. 7. The relaxation depends on Canada's COVID-19 rates remaining favorable, officials said.
"Thanks to the rising vaccination rates and declining COVID-19 cases, we are able to move forward with adjusted border measures," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference in Brampton, Ontario.
Some 50% of Canadian residents are fully vaccinated, and 75% have had one shot, government officials said.
Businesses in Canada and the United States, particularly the travel and airline industries, pushed for an end to restrictions on non-essential travel between the two countries, which were imposed in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.
Since then, the land border has been closed to all non-essential travel. However, the United States has allowed Canadians to fly in, while Canada has not allowed Americans to do the same.
"As Canada moves from recovery into growth, having workable border measures for fully vaccinated travelers is critical for Canadian businesses," said Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
Until now, the United States and Canada had extended the border restrictions month-by-month.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said U.S. officials told him it was likely Washington would extend its land border restrictions, which expire on Thursday, for an additional month.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to say whether the United States would follow Canada's lead.