American tourists yearning to visit Canada received welcome news on Monday when the federal government announced it will soon reopen its doors to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens.
However, some Canadians yearning to cross the U.S. land border felt short-changed, as no reciprocal agreement was announced.
“I’m waiting pretty damn patiently. We are all waiting pretty patiently to have this border open,” said Leslie Beitel of Lethbridge, Alta. She owns a second home about 290 kilometres away in Columbia Falls, Mont., but can’t drive there because the U.S. land border is closed.
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“It would just be really nice to be able to have free access to our place,” she said.
Here are the current rules for entering the U.S., including what’s subject to change.
U.S. travel rules
In March 2020, Canada and the United States agreed to close their shared land border to non-essential travel to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The U.S. decided to still let Canadian travellers enter by air, while Canada barred American tourists from entering by any mode of transport.
To decrease the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through August 21, while ensuring the continued flow of essential trade and travel.
It was widely assumed that — when the time was right — the two countries would announce a joint reopening of the land border.
But that didn’t happen.
On Monday, the Canadian government announced that, come Aug. 9, fully vaccinated Americans can enter Canada and even skip quarantine. The U.S. government, however, had nothing new to announce, except that it was continuing to review its current travel restrictions.
“Every country gets to set its own rules about how it will keep its citizens safe,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference in Hamilton on Tuesday.
A day later, the U.S. declared that, barring an amendment, its side of the land border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least Aug. 21 due to risks posed by the pandemic.
Even so, Canadians can still freely enter the U.S. by air.
They must show proof of a negative molecular or antigen COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before their flight.
When returning to Canada, travellers must show proof of a negative molecular test taken in the U.S. However, the Canadian government said that come Aug. 9, travellers can take that test when leaving Canada, and use it to both enter the U.S. and return home — as long as they’re in the U.S. for less than 72 hours.
Birgit Heinbach lives in Surrey, B.C., just seven kilometres from her American husband’s home across the border in Blaine, Wash.
She used to be able to walk to her husband’s house in 45 minutes, but because Heinback can’t travel by land, visiting her husband has become a lengthy, expensive journey.
“I have to fly from Vancouver to Seattle, hang around there, take the next plane to Bellingham. So it takes me three quarters of a day,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”
Why won’t the U.S. reopen its land border now?
Last year, the U.S. made noises about reopening the Canada-U.S. land border while Canada publicly opposed the idea.
So why was the U.S. silent on Monday when Canada announced its reopening plans?
Foreign policy expert Edward Alden suggested the U.S. is waiting until it’s ready to reopen its shared land border with Mexico, which is also closed to non-essential travel.
“It would be enormously awkward for this administration … to lift the restrictions on Canada without simultaneously lifting the land border restrictions on Mexico,” said Alden, a professor of U.S.-Canada economic relations at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash.
Alden suggested the U.S. isn’t rushing to reopen the border with Mexico because of the anticipated consequences: a flood of asylum seekers it can’t immediately turn back along with backlash from Republicans opposed to Biden’s immigration policies.
“It’s mostly the political concern over the Republicans,” he said. “It’s also, I would think, just a [border] resources concern.”
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security tweeted that it is “in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably.”
Vaccine mixing concerns
It’s unclear at this point whether the U.S. will mandate that Canadian tourists be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when they’re allowed to cross by land. It’s not currently a requirement for U.S.-bound air travellers.
If the U.S. does impose a vaccination requirement, it could cause problems for the more than 2.6 million Canadians who have mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
The U.S. currently does not recognize COVID-19 vaccine mixing.
“The safety and effectiveness of receiving two different COVID-19 vaccines has not been studied,” Jasmine Reed, a spokesperson for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an email.
However, the CDC says mixed doses of the two mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, will be accepted in “exceptional situations,” such as when the vaccine used for the first dose was no longer available. That rule excludes the many Canadians who got an AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and an mRNA shot.
Cruise line questions
Several cruise lines are following the CDC’s directive for their cruises departing from the U.S. where the passenger must be fully vaccinated. Norwegian Cruise Line is not recognizing people with mixed doses as being fully vaccinated. Princess Cruises, Carnival and Holland America aren’t recognizing those who mixed doses of AstraZeneca and an mRNA vaccine.
“It makes me feel like I’m somehow a second class citizen,” said epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine, who got one dose of AstraZeneca and a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Muhajarine, a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, said studies so far suggest that mixing vaccine doses is safe and effective, so the U.S. will likely change its policy at some point.
“It has to change, because this is such a narrow kind of take on what is allowable,” he said.
“There are many countries mixing and matching different types of vaccines.”
Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.
Sask. softball gets boost with Team Canada's bronze finish – CTV News Saskatoon
Members of the Saskatchewan softball community say Team Canada’s bronze medal win will help the future of the sport.
“Watching the Olympics, seeing Team Canada, seeing players that they recognize and names they recognize. It sets a drive for them to compete at the sport, and train hard, and have a goal and a dream of playing in the Olympics,” said Bryan Kosteroski, president of the Saskatoon Amateur Softball Association.
One of the names on Team Canada’s roster that stood out for Kosteroski was Jennifer Gilbert, who was born in Saskatoon.
“Now you look at Jennifer Gilbert, she was born in Saskatoon and has that Saskatchewan connection, they’re going to look at that and they’re going to say to themselves ‘you know what? I’m going to train, and I’m going to train hard. I want to be at the Olympic games in the future,” Kosteroski said.
“That’s the goal with all of these young ladies, that’s why they’re playing the sport, and that’s their drive, to play in the Olympics.”
Guy Jacobson, executive director for Softball Saskatchewan, said exposure coming to the sport of softball is always a good thing, and Team Canada’s win should have a big impact.
“It gives young players, especially young female players aspiring to maybe go further in the sport, an opportunity to think that there’s some great things down the path for them,” Jacobson told CTV News.
Disney to close almost all of its stores in Canada by next month – CBC.ca
Disney is planning on closing down almost all of its retail stores in Canada by next month.
The iconic chain announced in March that it planned to close 60 locations across North America this year, but had no specific comment on its Canadian locations, which at the time numbered 18.
“While consumer behaviour has shifted toward online shopping, the global pandemic has changed what consumers expect from a retailer,” the company’s statement at the time said. “Disney will remain flexible in its approach and continue to evolve its retail strategy to best meet the needs of consumers when and where they want.”
Since then, two stores in B.C. and one in Ontario have closed. It now appears as though almost all the remaining stores are slated to close down within weeks.
The chain currently has three locations in Vancouver, two in Calgary, two in Edmonton, one in Winnipeg, one in Ottawa five in the Greater Toronto Area and two elsewhere in Ontario. According to the store locator map on the company’s Canadian website, all but two of the GTA stores say they will be closed as of Aug. 18.
A spokesperson for Disney did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the fate of the two GTA stores not apparently slated for closure according to the chain’s website: one in the Eaton Centre downtown, and one in Scarborough in the eastern end of the city.
Shift to online
Retail analyst Bruce Winder says Disney has likely found more efficient ways to drive its brand and merchandise.
He says he expects the company will eventually connect its e-commerce platform shopDisney to its subscription streaming service Disney+.
The closure of Disney stores in Canada is part of sweeping changes hitting the retail industry and malls, Winder says.
“Malls are going to change considerably in terms of what they do and how they operate and what kind of stores are in there,” he says.
Canada now has enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to fully vaccinate all eligible citizens: PM – CTV News
Canada currently has enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country to fully vaccinate every eligible person over the age of 12, with more than 66 million doses received as of Tuesday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marked the vaccine milestone at a Moncton, N.B. vaccination clinic.
“Back in the winter I made a promise that we would have enough vaccines for all eligible Canadians by the end of September. Not only have we kept that promise, we’ve done it two months ahead of schedule,” Trudeau said.
In June, Trudeau promised that by the end of this month, Canada would have received “over 68 million” doses of COVID-19 vaccines, prompting an acceleration to his initial plans for a “one-dose summer” and “two-dose fall.”
Procurement Minister Anita Anand echoed the announcement later on Tuesday, confirming that by the end of the week, Canada will have received 68 million shots, with millions more coming in the next two months.
“We have procured in total 51 million doses of Pfizer, 44 million doses of Moderna, and we will receive 95 million doses of both of those vaccine manufacturers prior to the end of September,” said Anand.
Reflecting on the rollout, Anand—who led the government’s deal-making with companies to secure doses— said the federal strategy was “one of negotiation, and negotiation, and negotiation.”
As of Tuesday morning, according to CTV News’ vaccine tracker, 80 per cent of the eligible population has received a first dose, while just over 63 per cent of those eligible are fully vaccinated. After trailing behind for months, Canada now has a larger percentage of its population fully vaccinated than any other G7 country.
‘NO MORE EXCUSES’
While more than 26 million of the eligible 33 million Canadians have rolled up their sleeves, the push is now on to try to reach the outstanding people who are vaccine hesitant or have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine for other reasons.
Trudeau sought to encourage those still on the fence, reminding people that the vaccines have been authorized as safe and effective by Health Canada, that what the country is seeing is that “overwhelming majority” of new cases are in people who are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, and the consequences of getting COVID-19 can be serious.
“With enough doses for everyone, there’s no more excuses to not get your shot,” Trudeau said, encouraging those who have held off to think about their loved ones, the children in their lives, and the health care workers who have been on the front lines for a year and half.
“It’s about stepping up to do the right thing, as Canadians have been doing all throughout this pandemic,” he said, noting that the unvaccinated will be “missing out” on taking part in going forward, citing international travel as an example.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu also spoke about the challenge those who are unwilling to get vaccinated are posing to the country’s overall ability to get through and out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My worry as a Canadian health minister is that if we head into the fall and we have too many people that are unvaccinated, it gives the virus an opportunity to attack the people we love… It puts the risk of our recovery—it makes the risk so much more elevated,” she said.
ROLLOUT NOT WITHOUT ISSUES
While Canada’s vaccine rollout has been boosted by large deliveries of doses in recent months — making it possible to rapidly administer second doses — the national mass immunization campaign has not been without its issues.
Since the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered in Canada on December 14, 2020, the rollout has been marked by wildly different challenges including a shortage of doses in some places and seemingly a surplus in others; some Canadians received their two shots just four weeks apart, while others waited four months.
The evolving immunization strategy prompted by supply issues and adverse reaction concerns has resulted in some folks receiving mixed-dose regimes. And, anyone hoping for a single-shot vaccine had their hopes dashed when the only delivery of Johnson & Johnson doses was rejected due to quality control issues. There was also the logistical challenges—from procuring enough needles and cold-storage freezers to setting up administration sites in sometimes unorthodox locations—taken on by each province and territory with help from a military-led federal operations centre within the Public Health Agency of Canada.
On Tuesday, Anand and Hajdu joined representatives from the vaccine companies as well as FedEx Canada and Innomar Strategies, who were contracted by the federal government to help with the delivery and distribution of vaccines at an event marking the vaccine milestone.
“Throughout this pandemic we have rightly thanked our frontline health care workers… Today I would like to thank with immense gratitude, another set of Canadians who have stepped up, and that’s all of you here today… Canadians in the back rooms, who are making sure that we are able to get vaccines into this country,” Anand said, recalling the countless calls, emails, and texts they exchanged over the course of the procurement effort.
Now, the conversation is turning to how long the vaccines will provide protection, and whether evolving variants may prompt booster doses, meaning that while the initial vaccine rollout may be tapering off, COVID-19 and ways to keep future waves at bay will be an ongoing focus for governments and public health officials.
As well, studies are ongoing into the possibility of expanding COVID-19 vaccine access to children under the age of 12, specifically in the ages five to 11 demographic. Pfizer is expecting some early results by the fall, but won’t likely have its work completed to submit to Health Canada for authorization until later in the year.
Anand said that regardless of whether additional doses would be needed or when younger children may be cleared to be immunized against the novel coronavirus, Canada will have the supply.
“We have enough supply for all eligible Canadians and the remainder for additional needs that our country has including additional age groups, or boosters, if the science deems that that is appropriate,” she said.
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