Niagara, June 23, 2021 – On Monday, the Government of Canada announced that Canadian borders would be reopened on July 6 to Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have had a full series of COVID-19 vaccinations. This means that most fully vaccinated foreigners (including Americans) are still unable to travel to Canada for non-essential purposes. The announcement gives Canadians the opportunity to travel and will result in a boost for the tourism sectors of other countries, but not our own.
This change has been dubbed “Phase 1,” yet the government’s announcement contained no details as to what Phase 2 would be, when it would start, what public health measurements would indicate that it could start, or even how many total phases were in the border reopening plan.
The government’s own expert advisory council on this issue put forward extensive suggestions in April. However, we have yet to make any distinction between countries where the COVID-19 situation is similar to or better than that found in Canada and those where infection is rampant and healthcare systems are overwhelmed. The existence of different rules for fully vaccinated Canadians and fully vaccinated foreigners has also not been explained.
Border communities, families and devastated tourism operators are rightfully asking to see the complete plan for border reopening. We fully agree that it needs to be guided by public health metrics such as COVID-19 case counts, vaccination rates, hospital capacity, and so forth, but it is time for a clear plan with a roadmap to a full reopening of the border, along with timelines and measurements for each stage of the process.
The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business in Niagara, the largest business organization in the region and the second-largest Chamber of Commerce in Ontario, with 1,500 members representing 50,000 employees. More information on the GNCC is available at gncc.ca.