Too early to set date on easing travel restrictions, says Transport Minister
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said he could not yet commit on a date – or benchmark COVID-19 vaccination rates – for which the so-called vaccine passports will allow Canada to ease travel restrictions.
Speaking in a virtual press conference on Thursday, Alghabra said decisions regarding the quarantine of hotels for air passengers and the eventual reopening of the border will depend on expert advice and unspecified criteria related to the pandemic.
“These decisions will depend on public health, will depend on data and evidence. At the moment, I cannot give you a precise date,” he told reporters.
“We’re going to have all of these metrics and all of these thresholds detailed when we feel it’s time to do it.” The travel and aviation sectors will restart “when it is safe,” he added.
Alghabra stressed the need for a “common platform” to identify the immunization status of travelers, saying Thursday it was working with G7 countries and the European Union to integrate vaccine certification into international travel in months to come.
The EU on Wednesday approved a plan that would allow fully vaccinated travelers to visit the 27-nation bloc, as well as ease restrictions on all travel from some other countries considered safe from COVID-19. A date remains to be fixed, however.
The move prompted Canada’s largest airlines to renew their call for a clear plan from Ottawa on resuming international travel.
Looking for a plan
Mike McNaney, who heads the National Airlines Council of Canada, praised the EU for its “science-based approach” and demanded a similar plan from Ottawa, saying that on Wednesday the federal government is expected to indicate when it will adjust travel restrictions for vaccinated visitors.
Like EU countries, Canada has struggled to support an aviation and tourism sector battered by measures including travel advisories and a 14-month border closure.
Fewer than 29,000 travelers arrived in Canada by plane the week of April 26 to May 2, unlike the 688,000 passengers who arrived in a comparable period two years earlier, according to the Canada Border Services Agency. . The difference equates to a 96% drop in air travelers.
Many jurisdictions have linked reopening plans to vaccination benchmarks, although the travel elements of those plans may remain elusive.
“ The work is in progress ”: Alghabra
Across the border, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer last month announced a regime linking the rollback of coronavirus rules to the state’s vaccination rate.
The phased plan will remove indoor capacity limits for restaurants once 65% of the population has been vaccinated and increase the order for face masks to 70%.
In Germany, the health minister said the country intends to unveil a digital immunity certificate before July. The certificate would be stored in an app and, the government hopes, made compatible with the EU’s vaccine certification platform, still under development.
Alghabra underlined Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s talking point of a “one-dose summer” and a “two-dose fall”, that is, when the Minister of Transport “may see some activities restart. “.
“We could get ahead. We don’t want to do this. But I want you to know that this work is underway right now,” he said of benchmarks and border restrictions.
“As we have seen from COVID, things are changing very quickly, we are still dealing with the third wave.”