While Canada continues to face high infection rates and lockdowns in the third wave of the pandemic, some countries are showing more signs of improvement and are focused on reopening certain parts of their economy. One of those countries is the United States. With over 30% of Americans already fully vaccinated, some internal restrictions are beginning to ease. However, while some are calling for a reopening of the border with Canada, this doesn’t seem likely until later this year.
On Wednesday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released a letter calling for officials of both countries to work together to establish a “transparent, bilateral and public plan” for reopening the border as soon as possible. With an acknowledgement that any plan must consider public health guidance, metrics, and safety protocols, Schumer is calling for a definitive plan in light of the advancements with vaccinations in the U.S.
Due to the rising rates of vaccinated Americans and the subsequent decline in cases in New York and elsewhere, it has become abundantly clear that an agreement can and should be reached to safely accommodate the border communities without compromising the fight against COVID-19.
However, in a shift from where things stood six months or a year ago, it may be the situation in Canada that prolongs any border reopening between the two countries. Some provinces, including Alberta and Ontario, are currently facing the highest infection rates they’ve seen since the start of the pandemic. While efforts to expand the vaccination programs are currently underway, the impact of the variant infections is having a considerable impact. So much so that Canada is now the subject of a travel warning for Americans.
The United States State Department has warned against travel for Americans to 80% of the world. Strongly recommending that American residents reconsider all travel abroad, the State Department published a list of countries to which it classified as Level 4: Do Not Travel. Canada is included on the list, along with countries like France, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Travel to these countries is not necessarily banned, but rather strongly discouraged. The rules allowing travel into and out of each country are instead governed either by agreements between the respective nations or the regulations promulgated by each country.
It was recently announced that the European Union will permit fully vaccinated Americans to visit this summer. However, this may be impacted by the warnings on the U.S. side, depending on the specific destination country. Several European countries are considered Level 4, as noted above.
The European Union will be using digital green certificates to show whether a citizen of its 27 member states is vaccinated. Prospective travellers to the EU from the United States and elsewhere will have to show some proof of vaccination in order to enter.
Looking ahead to the broader expansion of tourism and travel, Canada is still working on developing its policy with respect to proof of vaccination for travellers. While the U.S. has so far declined to commit to a similar policy, many other nations have already done so. On Tuesday, Canada committed to working with its international allies to develop a policy that aligns with other nations.
In a global poll of adults across 28 countries, 75% of respondents showed support for some sort of vaccination passport policy for travel. In addition, most respondents felt that passports could also be helpful in facilitating a return to large events in a safe way. Canadians polled in the survey showed 78% approval for requiring vaccine passports for travel, while only 61% showed the same support for requiring proof of vaccination for events or internal travel.
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The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19 on both sides of the border and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about your potential classification as essential or about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.
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