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Businesses, U.S. legislators fume as Canada extends travel ban; Trudeau stands firm

EconomyJun 19, 2021 09:20AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Customs and Protection vehicle stands beside a sign reading that the border is closed to non-essential traffic at the Canada-United States border crossing at the Thousand Islands Bridge, to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (

(Corrects number of eligible Canadians who have had two COVID-19 vaccinations to 14.7% from 5.5%)

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada is extending a ban on nonessential travel with the United States and the rest of the world until July 21, officials said on Friday, prompting frustration from businesses and U.S. legislators.

Canada is under pressure from companies and the tourism industry to ease the ban, which was imposed in March 2020 to help contain spread of the coronavirus and has been renewed on a monthly basis ever since.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood firm, saying the border would stay largely shut until 75% of Canadians had received the first of a two-dose coronavirus vaccine and 20% had been given both shots.

Although Trudeau said Canada had basically achieved the first target, official data released after he spoke showed 73.4% had received their first shot. Only 14.7% of the eligible population has had both shots.

"Even a fully vaccinated individual can pass on COVID-19 to someone who is not vaccinated," Trudeau told reporters, saying Canada needed to avoid "any further massive waves."

The extended border closure comes as the western province of Alberta unveiled plans to fully reopen on July 1, lifting virtually all remaining public health restrictions, after 70% of eligible Albertans received their first vaccination dose.

The travel ban does not affect trade in goods but Statistics Canada said total exports of services in 2020 compared with 2019 fell by 17.7% and imports of services plunged by 24.0%, in part due to the border restrictions. Travel and transportation services were particularly hard hit.

"The inability of the U.S. and Canadian governments to reach an agreement on alleviating border restrictions ... is simply unacceptable," said U.S. Representatives Brian Higgins and Bill Huizenga, co-chairs of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group.

The United States is Canada's largest trading partner.

Harley Finkelstein, president of Canadian e-commerce company Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) Inc, tweeted that the extended border closure was the wrong decision. "We need to open the border for fully vaccinated travellers immediately," he wrote.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce - a national group that advocates for businesses - lamented what it said was Ottawa's excessive caution.

"All of the science would say we should be moving ahead to reopen the border. We don't even have a plan at this point," said Perrin Beatty, the group's president and chief executive.

Ottawa will reveal on Monday how it plans to start easing measures for fully vaccinated Canadians.

Businesses, U.S. legislators fume as Canada extends travel ban; Trudeau stands firm
 

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Comments (6)
Tudval Stone
Tudval Stone Jun 19, 2021 1:17PM ET
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USA seems set to not recognize AZ shots?? We should not concede to Americans anything more, Biden already proved to be no better or even worse than Trump on a number of issues. Some friends...
Tudval Stone
Tudval Stone Jun 19, 2021 1:15PM ET
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Well, we fume on this side of the border for a number of issues where Biden is worse than Trump. Some friends we have to the south...
Michael Roal Casa
Michael Roal Casa Jun 18, 2021 4:55PM ET
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heck the US will not get 70% of its population to be vaccinated with 1 shot by July 4th, here we are at 70%, even after a slow start.. so good on the closed border until they achieve more people vaccinated. I hope Canada only allows fully vaccinated people and turns back the deniers
Kirk Boylston
Kirk Boylston Jun 18, 2021 4:55PM ET
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Do you own a business in Canada that is being destroyed by the closure? I think not....
Michael Roal Casa
Michael Roal Casa Jun 18, 2021 4:49PM ET
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15 states don't have 1/3 of their population vaccinated with any shots yet. 25 states are only 50% vaccinated with 1 vaccine and they are still losing 300 people a day to Covid. so I am happy that the border is not opening
Millennial Dip Buyer
Millennial Dip Buyer Jun 18, 2021 3:29PM ET
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"We don't even have a plan at this point".  Sums up the past 6 years perfectly.
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Jun 18, 2021 3:03PM ET
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Politicians basically holding people hostage to coerce them into getting the vaccine. How is not letting in US citizens, where vaccinations are further along, protecting Canada? The US should be more concerned.
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Jun 18, 2021 3:03PM ET
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Also consider that even the first dose of most of the vaccines gives better protection then a typical flu shot.
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Jun 18, 2021 3:03PM ET
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Let’s also not forget that most of high risk people have already been vaccinated. The risk to society has to be no greater than a bad flu season by now, at the worst!
 
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