Fri, 17 Sep 2021

OTTAWA, Canada: Following a 16-month closure of the U.S.-Canada border to prevent the spread of the Covid infection, the Canadian government announced on Monday that vaccinated American tourists will again be admitted beginning August 9.

Canada will also allow inoculated visitors from countries other than the United States into the country beginning September 7.

Officials noted, however, that the easing of restrictions will depend upon Canada's COVID-19 rates remaining favorable.

"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.

Officials report that some 50 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated, and 75 percent have had one shot.

Canadian and U.S. businesses, particularly the travel and airline industries, have pressured both governments to end restrictions on non-essential travel between the two countries, which were put in place in March 2020. However, the United States has allowed Canadians to fly into the country, 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, as quoted by Reuters.

Meanwhile, Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said that U.S. officials told him the U.S. 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.

Under the new regulations, U.S. citizens who qualify to enter Canada must have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before crossing the border. Children under 12 who are not vaccinated will not be required to quarantine if traveling with their fully inoculated parents.

At the same time, the Canadian government repeated that citizens should continue to avoid non-essential travel abroad.

The opening of borders has been praised by the hard-hit Canadian airline industry.

Canada's second-largest carrier, WestJet Airlines, said it was operating at 60 percent capacity in July. Airline officials called the opening of borders a "significant and positive step forward".

Additionally, Air Canada said in a statement that the opening of the U.S. border was "an important step." Airlines officials said Air Canada will offer the public a new summer schedule with up to 220 daily flights between the U.S. and Canada.

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