By Julie Gordon
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Foreign tourists who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada for quite some time because the government is unwilling to jeopardize progress made on containing the virus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.
“I can tell you right now that’s not going to happen for quite a while,” said Trudeau, when asked by reporters when Canada would allow unvaccinated tourists to enter the country.
Canada, as of this week, has waived quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated citizens. But non-essential foreign travelers are still not allowed to enter despite pressure from the country’s hurting tourism sector.
The United States does not have vaccine requirements for visitors. At this point talks about lifting border restrictions are focused on fully vaccinated travelers, Trudeau said.
“The next step we’ll be looking at what measures we can allow for international travelers who are fully vaccinated,” he said. “We will have more to say in the coming weeks.”
Trudeau has previously said authorities are looking closely at domestic vaccination rates, the spread of variants of concern, and how the rest of the world deals with COVID-19.
Some 78% of people aged 12 years or older in Canada have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, health officials said on Thursday. About 44% of people 12 years or older are fully vaccinated.
Governments in Canada and the United States have faced pressure to reopen the world’s largest land border, which has been shuttered to non-essential travel since March 2020. The current restrictions are in place at least until July 21.
A White House official told Reuters on Wednesday that a reopening of U.S. borders to many global tourists will still need more discussion.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; additional reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)