U.S. lawmaker who led charge against restrictions cheers Canada-U.S. border news

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WASHINGTON —
The member of Congress who led the charge against travel restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border is cheering the news that their days may finally be numbered.

New York’s Rep. Brian Higgins says it’s a relief to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is aiming to let U.S. citizens who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 back into Canada by mid-August.

Higgins calls it welcome news for people who live near the border, for whom crossing back and forth has long been a way of life.

Trudeau told Canada’s premiers Thursday that as long as vaccination rates hold, eligible U.S. travellers — fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents — could be allowed back in about a month’s time.

He also says the government hopes fully vaccinated travellers from around the world could be arriving in Canada again by early September.

The mutual travel restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border, in place since March 2020, are due for renewal on Wednesday.

“The finish line is finally in sight for people who have been separated from their families and properties for way too long,” Higgins said in a statement.

“For Americans and Canadians who live along the border and frequently cross as a way of life, action lifting restrictions for those vaccinated can’t come soon enough.”

Trudeau, whose office disclosed the latest news in a readout from the prime minister’s call with premiers, did not mention whether Canada will require travellers to show proof of vaccination when they try to cross the border.

The White House has ruled out the notion of a national vaccine “passport,” so it’s not clear what type of credential travellers would require in order to enter Canada.

The readout noted that the group discussed working together on vaccine credentials and a system to allow Canadians “to travel internationally with confidence.”

News of the shifting thinking comes amid two significant developments: the prospect of a summer or fall federal election in Canada and a surge in the U.S. of the Delta variant of COVID-19, primarily among unvaccinated Americans.

About 80 per cent of eligible Canadians have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and about 54 per cent are fully vaccinated. In the U.S., the rates are just 65 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively, for Americans over the age of 12.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2021.

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