Justin Trudeau defended his gradual plan to reopen borders on Tuesday, with some criticizing him for being too cautious, but said the changes coming would be on the scale of weeks rather than months.
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He said the gradual rollback “occurs on deadlines of several weeks, not several months.”
Ottawa on Monday announced the “first step” in its plan to ease border measures, which calls for the end of mandatory quarantine on arrival in the country for fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents on July 6.
No date has been set for the reopening of the border with the United States, nor any specific indication that would allow for a possible decision.
However, the prime minister made it clear that before taking the next step to reopen borders to foreign visitors for non-essential travel, “we must have a higher level of protection within the country. Canada, with more people being doubly vaccinated.”
While Canada ranks first in the rankings of countries with the highest rate of people vaccinated with the first dose, the country is practically at the back of the pack when it comes to administering the second dose, which is essential for good coverage against COVID-19.
Mr Trudeau also noted that the emergence of a delta variant, which worries authorities in many countries, including the UK and Portugal, should also be an element to consider before allowing it to reopen to foreigners.
The case of Quebec
Quebec Public Health’s decision to offer only one dose to people who have already contracted COVID-19 effectively excludes them from being able to benefit from the easing planned for the beginning of July.
On the subject, Mr Trudeau said “we hope to have announcements in the coming weeks”, but acknowledged there was “no guarantee” of change on the subject.
However, he claimed that the issue of single-dose vaccination is currently under investigation by experts. He noted that a possible decision would be based on science.
“This is something we are looking forward to, but we were not prepared to make a decision on, to make a final decision on this to announce yesterday,” the prime minister said.