June 22, 2020 / 4:26 PM / 21 days ago

Canada will not reopen borders quickly, Trudeau tells airlines

OTTAWA, June 22 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday pushed back against pressure from airlines to quickly reopen the nation’s borders, saying moving too quickly could spark a second wave of the coronavirus.

“I understand there are a lot of tourism firms and airlines who would like us to be able to once again to welcome tourists,” Trudeau told a daily briefing.

“But these people all need to understand that if we take steps too quickly, if we are not sure of what we’re doing at each stage, we risk hitting a second wave ... and having to close our economy again.”

Earlier this month, Air Canada Chief Executive Officer Calin Rovinescu and a major tourism industry group urged the government to lift travel restrictions.

Last week, a group of 27 leading executives added to calls for Canada to ease coronavirus-led air restrictions in a letter published in the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Canada and the United States last week extended a ban on non-essential travel to late July. Washington and Ottawa introduced month-long restrictions in March and renewed them in April and May.

“I understand how difficult this is and how frustrating this is for some people but ... we are going to be very very careful about when and how we start reopening international borders,” said Trudeau. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by David Gregorio)

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