Ottawa business leaders are calling for the immediate release of a comprehensive plan to reopen the economy and international borders, as well as a vaccine status certification process.
Members of the Canadian Roundtable on Travel and Tourism said Monday that the federal government should heed advice issued last month by its expert advisory group, and allow fully vaccinated foreigners to enter the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he had held talks with US President Joe Biden at the G7 summit about easing border restrictions, but did not indicate a timetable or other details.
Canadian Chamber of Commerce CEO Beren Beatty stressed on Monday that Canada remains a “special case” within the G7, as it has yet to unveil a comprehensive reopening plan based on vaccination rates and other criteria. The tourism and aviation sectors have lost billions of dollars in the past 15 months, with travel warnings enforced and borders closed due to the pandemic.
A careful first step
The government took a cautious first step last week by announcing that Canadian citizens and permanent residents who received two doses of the vaccine and tested negative for COVID-19 will likely be exempted for a while. Mandatory two-week isolation, including hotel quarantine, early next month.
The closure of the border between Canada and the United States, in effect since March 20, 2020 and renewed every month, is currently expected to end next Monday.
The foreign minister, Marc Garneau, who was arrested June 3 in front of the Montreal Board of Commerce, had urged businessmen to be patient, as they demanded at least a plan to reopen the borders.
Arguing that vaccination should make mandatory hotel quarantines obsolete, the chamber’s president, Michel LeBlanc, called for an end to these quarantines and a careful plan to reopen borders so that the business community can plan beyond the pandemic. Mr. LeBlanc wants ‘plan’, ‘predictability’, ‘dates on terms’. “We are well aware that people are running out of patience, and then I note very clearly this morning with your word ‘predictability’. […] Minister Garneau, who sits on the ministerial committee set up to manage the response to the pandemic, has promised, “I will bring it home, to my colleagues.”
The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies insisted on Minister Garneau. “There are people who have been doubly vaccinated, […] Lots of businessmen, who want to travel abroad to strengthen their relationship with their clients, to develop business, […] Can we get a clear indication right away that the mandatory hotel reservations will be lifted in the coming days? “