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U.S. Border Closure Extended To 21JUN As PM Seeks 75% Vaccination Rate To Reopen

Hopes for an imminent reopening of the Canada-U.S. border were dashed this week. Just days before the closure agreement was set to expire, Ottawa announced an extension by one month, to 21JUN.

Prior to the announcement, the Star reported that Prime Minister Trudeau told a press conference it may take up to three quarters of Canadians to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before Canada will consider reopening the border with the U.S.

“We’re all eager to get back to normal, but we know that before we get back to normal, cases need to be under control and over 75 per cent of people need to be vaccinated.”

This may well spell more extensions as Canada is a long from reaching that threshold of vaccinations – and is still not out of the current third wave of COVID-19. The country has much more work to do before it’s safe for travel to resume, Trudeau said.

A consortium of Canadian business leaders wrote a letter Monday to Trudeau — citing the same 75 per cent vaccination threshold and asking for action this summer.

“By midsummer, if not sooner, some three-quarters of Canadian adults will be at least partially vaccinated, and one in five will be fully vaccinated,” by which point restrictions ought to be eased, reads the letter, signed by the presidents of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, among dozens of others.

On the opposite side of the border, stakeholders are just as anxious for progress.

Vaccinations in the U.S. have escalated at a blistering pace and lawmakers there are pressuring the President to allow travel to and from Canada in time for the 4th of July holiday – only six weeks away.

New York Rep. Brian Higgins wrote to U.S. President Joe Biden last week urging him to “directly engage” with Trudeau on a plan to reopen the border, including a partial easing of the restrictions before the end of this month, something that this week’s renewal of the border closure is likely to mean will not come to pass.

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