Approaching the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-Canada border closure, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated yesterday that he has no immediate plans to discuss lifting the ban on nonessential cross-border traffic.
“We’re all eager to be able to travel again,” Trudeau told reporters at a news conference in Montreal on Monday. “But, I think we’re all going to wait patiently until such time as the health situation allows us to loosen border restrictions internationally. That’ll be eventually, but not for today.”
Optimism about a possible bilateral border reopening is likely being fueled by a recent increase in COVID-19 vaccination rates worldwide, as well as a declining daily number of new cases in the U.S.
While infection rates may be down from their peak levels, Vice pointed out that they’re certainly still troubling. The U.S. is still averaging 53,992 new cases daily, and Canada has discovered over 3,000 cases of the B.1.1.7. variant, which first emerged in the U.K. and has been shown to be more contagious and at least 35 percent more deadly than previous strains of the virus.
And, while the U.S. has procured ample stockpiles of the vaccine, and President Joe Biden rapidly ramped up efforts to make them available across the states, Canada’s procurement and distribution efforts haven’t been as successful.
CTV News reported that our northern neighbor’s government and diplomatic officials aren’t in a hurry to lift the present travel restrictions, largely because cross-border trade and essential supply chains have remained mostly intact.
It’s certain U.S. lawmakers, business leaders and officials who are clamoring to get international travel restarted are putting pressure on President Biden to pursue border reopening talks.
In January, two dozen U.S. politicians sent Biden a letter, requesting that he, “prioritize working with the Canadian government to increase the number of essential traveler exceptions to current border restrictions and establish a plan, guided by public health metrics, upon which the United States-Canada land border will be re-opened to nonessential travel.”
Yet, as CBC reported, neither U.S. nor Canadian officials have come up with a feasible plan for reopening the border and eventually returning traffic to normal. With no precedent for the pandemic, there is no adequate blueprint for defining what public-health metrics would need to be met in order to safely reestablish cross-border travel.
As Trudeau intimated yesterday, the time will surely come when a road map may be laid out for the border reopening, but not so long as COVID-19 continues to pose a serious risk to public health.