Canada on Wednesday took a cautious first step toward easing COVID-19 border restrictions, saying it was prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July.
Canada‘s air and land borders have allowed for only essential travel since March of last year, and Canadians coming home are currently required to quarantine for 14 days. If they arrive by air, they also must stay in a designated hotel until they receive a negative COVID-19 test.
“The first step … is to allow fully vaccinated individuals currently permitted to enter Canada to do so without the requirement to stay in government-authorized accommodation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu told reporters on Wednesday.
The easing of restrictions will hinge on COVID-19 case numbers and vaccinations, she said.
Canadian businesses, especially airlines and those that depend on tourism, have been lobbying for Ottawa to relax restrictions as more and more people are vaccinated. But Hajdu made clear that Ottawa would act slowly.
Asked about calls from businesses to lift restrictions starting on June 22, Hajdu said: “We do want to be cautious and careful on these next steps to be sure that we are not putting that recovery in jeopardy.”
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce welcomed the announcement but said much work still remained.
“As other countries move ahead with their reopening plans, it is critical for Canada to catch up by providing a national reopening strategy, including a plan for border measures,” it said in a statement.
By June 21, Canada is due to decide whether to extend land border restrictions with the United States. The measures do not affect trade.
Hajdu said Canada would take a “phased approach towards adjusting current border measures.”
It is still unclear when the border rules might change for foreign travelers.
There will be as many as seven phases, with borders not fully open until some 75% of Canadians are fully vaccinated, a source familiar with the matter said.
Canada is working on developing a vaccine certificate that can be presented at the border as proof of vaccination, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters.
Even if fully vaccinated, Canadians will be required to take a COVID-19 test before departure and upon arrival, and then quarantine until they receive a negative result, Hajdu said
Some 70% of eligible Canadians have received a first shot, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said on Wednesday, while about 10% are fully vaccinated.
Canada is due to receive millions of doses of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in June. Canada will receive 7 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, with some coming for the first time from the United States, Anand said.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration said it was forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to determine how best to safely restart travel after 15 months of pandemic restrictions.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer and David LjunggrenEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot)
Trudeau says he discussed border with Biden, but no deal
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he has spoken with U.S. President Joe Biden about how to lift pandemic-related border restrictions between the two countries but made clear no breakthrough has been achieved.
U.S. and Canadian business leaders have voiced increasing concern about the ban on non-essential travel in light of COVID-19 that was first imposed in March 2020 and renewed on a monthly basis since then. The border measures do not affect trade flows.
The border restrictions have choked off tourism between the two countries. Canadian businesses, especially airlines and those that depend on tourism, have been lobbying the Liberal government to relax the restrictions.
Canada last week took a cautious first step, saying it was prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July.
Trudeau, speaking after a Group of Seven summit in Britain, said he had talked to Biden “about coordinating measures at our borders as both our countries move ahead with mass vaccination.” Canada is resisting calls for the border measures to be relaxed, citing the need for more people to be vaccinated.
The United States is ahead of Canada in terms of vaccination totals.
“We will continue to work closely together on moving forward in the right way but each of us always will put at the forefront the interests and the safety of our own citizens,” Trudeau told a televised news conference when asked the Biden conversation.
“Many countries, like Canada, continue to say that now is not the time to travel,” Trudeau added, though he said it is important to get back to normalcy as quickly as possible.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Will Dunham)
Man with 39 wive dies in India
A 76-year-old man who had 39 wives and 94 children and was said to be the head of the world’s largest family has died in north east India, the chief minister of his home state said.
With a total of 167 members, the family is the world’s largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether you count the grandchildren, of whom Ziona has 33.
Ziona lived with his family in a vast, four-story pink structure with around 100 rooms in Baktawng, a remote village in Mizoram that became a tourist attraction as a result, according to Zoramthanga.
The sect, named “Chana”, was founded by Ziona’s father in 1942 and has a membership of hundreds of families. Ziona married his first wife when he was 17, and claimed he once married ten wives in a single year.
They shared a dormitory near his private bedroom, and locals said he liked to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.
Despite his family’s huge size, Ziona told Reuters in a 2011 interview he wanted to grow it even further.
“I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry,” he said.
“I have so many people to care for and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man.”
(Reporting by Alasdair Pal and Adnan Abidi in New Delhi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
Huawei CFO seeks publication ban on HSBC documents in U.S. extradition case
Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on Monday will seek to bar publication of documents her legal team received from HSBC, a request opposed by Canadian prosecutors in her U.S. extradition case who say it violates the principles of open court.
Meng’s legal team will present arguments in support of the ban in the British Columbia Supreme Court.
Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States, where she faces charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran and potentially causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions on business in Iran.
She has been under house arrest in Vancouver for more than two years and fighting her extradition to the United States. Meng has said she is innocent.
Lawyers for Huawei and HSBC in Hong Kong agreed to a release of the documents in April to Meng’s legal team on the condition that they “use reasonable effort” to keep confidential information concealed from the public, according to submissions filed by the defense on Friday.
Prosecutors representing the Canadian government argued against the ban, saying in submissions filed the same day that “to be consistent with the open court principle, a ban must be tailored” and details should be selectively redacted from the public, rather than the whole documents.
A consortium of media outlets, including Reuters News, also opposes the ban.
The open court principle requires that court proceedings be open and accessible to the public and to the media.
It is unclear what documents Huawei obtained from HSBC, but defense lawyers argue they are relevant to Meng’s case.
Meng’s hearing was initially set to wrap up in May but Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes granted an extension to allow the defense to read through the new documents.
Hearings in the extradition case are scheduled to finish in late August.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Howard Goller)
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