Canadian Manufacturing

Canadians cheer, Freeland urges caution as U.S. unveils land border travel plan

The plan was short on key details, most notably whether the U.S. will consider the many Canadians who received two different vaccines to be fully immunized.

October 14, 2021  The Canadian Press

A motley coalition of elected officials, bilateral business leaders and travellers-turned-lobbyists briefly cheered the coming reprieve from restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border Wednesday before confronting their next challenge: the question of mixed-dose vaccinations.

The plan for early November, spelled out by senior Biden administration officials as well as Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, was short on key details, most notably whether the U.S. will consider the many Canadians who received two different vaccines to be fully immunized.

“Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner,” Mayorkas said in a statement.

“This new travel system will create consistent, stringent protocols for all foreign nationals travelling to the United States — whether by air, land, or ferry — and accounts for the wide availability of COVID-19 vaccinations.”

Advertisement

U.S. officials say experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are actively exploring the issue of whether to allow travellers who received a mix of vaccines. Ottawa has also been actively lobbying the White House on the issue, including with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s own research on the effectiveness of mixed doses.

That question, along with the absence of a hard start date beyond early November and a lack of specificity on what kind of paperwork travellers will be required to show, dampened the enthusiasm for an announcement people on both sides of the border have been waiting to hear for months.

“The job is not finished,” said Perrin Beatty, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

“The two governments need to work together to ensure that fully vaccinated Canadians with mixed-dose combinations are eligible for entry into the United States.”

Researchers in Quebec and B.C. have all found preliminary evidence that appears to vindicate Canada’s controversial strategy of mixing vaccine doses and spacing them out four months apart in hopes of stretching the available supply.

The U.S. will not be requiring travellers to show proof of a negative test for COVID-19, unlike Canada, which includes a recent negative PCR test among the requirements for everyone entering the country, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

In order to be considered fully vaccinated, travellers must have received a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by either the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. That includes Oxford-AstraZeneca, a vaccine used in Canada that never received FDA approval.