VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – While he has some concerns, B.C.’s premier says he’s confident the pieces will be in place as Canada eyes the easing of border restrictions for fully vaccinated Americans as early as mid-August.
John Horgan says he’s being cautious but optimistic as we await more details from the federal government.
While the prime minister has promised to provide more information next week, Horgan says what the easing of restrictions for U.S. travellers will look like has not yet been laid out.
“The federal government, the prime minister, and the minister of intergovernmental relations were very attentive to suggestions and proposals from various provinces,” Horgan said, referring to a call with the country’s premiers on Thursday.
“Obviously, large provinces like Quebec, Ontario, B.C., and Alberta who have large populations and lots of traffic at airports and at our … land borders are concerned that there’s capacity at border control to meet the objectives.”
In addition to staffing concerns at borders, Horgan says there are also questions around testing and what that will look like.
“I know people trying to travel now are required to get private sector testing done and the costs are prohibitive. Obviously, the health authorities in British Columbia are testing people with symptoms, not testing people so they can travel. That may change in the weeks ahead as we see continued decline in cases and those presenting with symptoms because of the high vaccination rates,” he explained.
Horgan notes it’s also not yet clear what kind of documentation travellers will have to provide beyond confirmation they’ve received necessary doses of a vaccine against COVID-19.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed plans on Thursday to allow fully vaccinated Americans into Canada again by as early as the middle of next month. He said if vaccination rates keep heading higher, fully immunized travellers from around the world could begin arriving in Canada as of early September.
While the planned easing of further travel restrictions is welcome news for many, a number of stakeholders from the tourism and travel industries have said they need more details and concrete dates in order to help businesses prepare.
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Horgan says as we look ahead, collaboration is key.
“The details will be clearer as we get closer to the dates, but the prime minister was very much seized of concerns across the country about making sure that Border Services had the resources that they need,” he explained, pointing to collaborative work between provincial government employees at border crossings in previous months.
The premier adds he is prepared to offer whatever assistance is needed, as are other provinces. He says he’s supportive of the “caution that’s being demonstrated by the federal government,” adding there had been discussions about potentially “reopening as early as next week.”
Current border restrictions are set to expire on Tuesday, July 21.
“There was some concern that that was too fast — that was certainly the view of British Columbia and others. There were provinces that felt that we were ready to go now. I want to make sure that we are right beside the federal government on these matters, supportive, and making sure that if we need to be nimble … we will be,” Horgan said.
While non-essential travel to Canada remains largely restricted, the country has already begun to ease some COVID-19 travel restrictions. On July 5, the country began allowing fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents, and other travellers permitted entry to forego the 14-day quarantine and hotel stay requirements.