The government of Canada has extended the ban on the entry of tourists from both the United States and other countries until July 21, Ottawa said last Friday. This decision caused dissatisfaction both among American companies and among lawmakers in Congress.
Businesses and the tourism industry are putting pressure on the Canadian government to ease strict bans imposed in March 2020 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The ban on crossing Canadian borders for tourism purposes was introduced at the same time and has been updated monthly ever since.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the border will be closed until 75% of Canadians receive the first of two doses of the coronavirus vaccine. At least 20% of Canadians will need to receive two doses of the vaccine.
The first goal, according to Trudeau, has been achieved: according to official data, 73.4% of Canadian adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. However, only 14.7% of the country’s adult population was fully vaccinated.
“Even a fully vaccinated person can infect someone with COVID-19 who is not vaccinated, “Trudeau told reporters, saying Canada needs to avoid “further massive waves” of the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, authorities in the western province of Alberta unveiled plans to fully open the economy starting July 1, promising to remove almost all remaining restrictions. This is because 70% of Albertans have already received the first dose of the vaccine.
The travel ban does not affect trade, but Statistics Canada said total exports of services in 2020 fell by 17.7% compared to 2019, while imports of services fell by 24.0%, partly due to entry restrictions from the United States. The tourism and transport industries were particularly hard hit.
“The failure of the US and Canadian governments to agree on easing border crossing bans… simply unacceptable, ” said US lawmakers Brian Higgins and Bill Huizenga, co-chairs of the Canada – US Inter-Parliamentary Group.
The United States is Canada’s largest trading partner.
Harley Finkelstein, president of Canadian company Shopify, tweeted that closing the border was the wrong decision.
“We need to immediately open the border to fully vaccinated tourists,” he wrote.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, a nationwide business advocacy association, lamented Ottawa’s excessive caution.
“All the scientists say that we should move forward and reopen the border. At this point, we don’t even have an action plan,” said Perrin Beatty, president, and chief executive officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. On Monday, the Canadian government is due to announce the easing of the ban on fully vaccinated residents of the country.