Trudeau Reaffirms Cautious Approach To Reopening Borders

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

As destinations around the world take gradual steps to ease coronavirus lockdown measures, the pressure is mounting on the federal government to relax travel and border restrictions in Canada.

During his daily address yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that Canada will not rush to lift the travel restrictions it currently has in place, cautioning about reopening too soon and risking new outbreaks.

Trudeau said any move to reopen travel and borders will be gradual and done with "the health and safety of Canadians” as a “top priority.”

“We will have to look very carefully to what we can do and when we can start to reopen our borders. I understand many tour operators and airlines that would like us to be able to bring in tourists but they must understand that if we move forward too quickly, if we are not sure of what we’re doing at each stage, we run the risk of getting into a second wave of infections that we're seeing in certain places around the world and having to reclose our economy," he said.

While Canada has extended its U.S. border shutdown until 21JUL and is still advising against non-essential international travel, many European countries including France, Italy and Germany are reopening their borders to travellers from other European Union countries.

Last week, the CEOs of 27 companies including AC, WS and PD wrote a public letter calling on the federal government to safely lift restrictions in order to support Canada’s economic recovery, but health experts are urging caution.

Paul Pottinger, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Washington's School of Medicine, told Canadian Press that big business should follow the lead of Health Canada and the World Health Organization, which has highlighted a surge of infections in parts of the U.S. and China due to more relaxed lockdown rules.

"The virus does not care whether people are upset, taking a hit to their bottom line," Pottinger said.

An epidemiologist cautioned air travel poses a risk, both in the packed confines of the aircraft and the potential for spreading the disease to new communities after touchdown.

"Once it's in the cabin, it's difficult to stop air moving around," said Tim Sly, an epidemiologist and professor emeritus at Ryerson University's School of Public Health.

Sly and Pottinger say they support a gradual easing of air travel restrictions on countries with low infection rates, but note that the epidemic can flare up quickly and only a small fraction of Canadians have immunity.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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