Trudeau announces US border opening while cases remain low

A single car driving along a road, beside the ditch that marks the Us Canadian border
0 Avenue on the Canadian side in BC’s Lower Mainland and the border marker photo by AHEXP via wikipedia (CC BY SA, 4.0 License)
Roy Hales - CKTZ - Cortes IslandBC | 22-07-2021

By Anastasia Avvakumova

On Monday July 19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that August 9 is slated as the starting date for allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens into Canada for non-essential travel.

The border restrictions will lift at 12:01am EST on Monday, August 9, three weeks following the milestone announcement, provided case numbers continue the trajectory of decline.

The local data shows cause for optimism. Island Health cited 2 new cases this week for a total of just 14 active cases as of Wednesday, July 21. Of these, only 1 is hospitalized and none are in critical care. The total for patients currently hospitalized across B.C. is 48, the lowest it has been since last September. In the Greater Campbell River Local Health Area, the reported number of cases decreased from 3 to 1 for the week ending July 17. The overall rate of samples testing positive for COVID-19 is less than 1% on Vancouver Island and most of the province.

Map showing most of the Local Health Areas on Vancouver Island

Screenshot of Vancouver Island from the B C Centre for Disease Control Local Health areas for the epi-week (new cases) of July 11-17, 2021. Greater Cempbell River is CR

Canada’s border restrictions have been in place since March 18, 2020. The upcoming big shift will see U.S. citizens and permanent residents who meet the specific criteria to be exempt from the previously mandatory 14-day quarantine and essential travel reasons.

U.S. President Joe Biden did not reciprocate with an easing. Two days following Trudeau’s announcement, the U.S. administration confirmed the extension of its closure to the nationals of both Canada and Mexico until August 21. This is speculated to be due to the U.S. not being ready to reopen its southern border and navigating political complexity by choosing to keep all land borders shut.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government plans to lift restrictions for eligible travellers from the rest of the world on September 7. It’s possible this decision will be reviewed, as international flights arriving from overseas — notably Mexico — have been reporting a rise in infected travelers. This is despite the fact that passengers must show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding an aircraft.

An increase in cases has also been reported in countries such as Israel, the United Kingdom and other European nations. Among these recent cases internationally, a large portion is attributed to people who have only received one or neither of the vaccine doses. (A similar phenomenon was reported in British Columbia last month). France has responded domestically with harsh regulations requiring vaccine passports, which caused huge protests to erupt nationwide in the last week. Demonstrators are appalled at losing their freedoms and signs such as “Hands off my natural immunity!” summarize the clash in beliefs.

Links of Interest

Notes to above:

  • BCCDC reported 18 cases in VIHA – BUT Island Health reported 14 and has this below their stats on the Daily Dashboard: “Data note 1: Case counts by status may differ from BCCDC reports as Island Health counts reflect the most up to date case investigation information available.”