As vaccination rates rise, both national governments are under intensifying pressure to produce a reopening plan.
OTTAWA — The mayors of Canadian border cities say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has signaled it could start easing Covid-19 restrictions at the Canada-U.S. frontier on June 22 if the country’s vaccination campaign stays on its current trajectory.
Jim Diodati, mayor of Niagara Falls, Ontario, told POLITICO that Public Safety Minister Bill Blair delivered the message during a recent virtual meeting of border mayors from the province.
“He didn’t put it in stone but he suggested that [June 22] is the date they’re looking at,” Diodati said Monday of the May 28 meeting with Blair, who is Trudeau’s cabinet minister responsible for the border. “We’re hoping to get some more confirmation this week.”
The border: Canada-U.S. land crossings were shuttered March 2020 to nonessential travel in an effort to slow Covid-19’s spread.
But as vaccination rates rise, both national governments are under intensifying pressure to produce a reopening plan as a way to help struggling tourism industries and families who have been separated for more than a year. On the U.S. side, there have been calls for the Biden administration to start loosening measures at the American border without Canada, if necessary.
Since the border measures were first imposed, the countries have been renewing a bilateral, month-to-month arrangement to keep them in place. The next agreement is set to expire June 21.
Trudeau has said that before the country begins to ease public health restrictions — including those at the border — at least 75 percent of Canada’s population should have their first Covid vaccine doses and 20 percent should be fully vaccinated.
As of May 29, more than 68 percent of Canadian adults had received at least one dose, while more than 7 percent were fully vaccinated.
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