Canada to unveil measures soon to ease U.S. border curbs for fully vaccinated

OTTAWA, June 8 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, under pressure to lift COVID-19-related restrictions along the U.S. border, said on Tuesday that Ottawa would disclose in coming weeks how some measures could be relaxed for fully vaccinated people.

The two countries banned non-essential travel across the border in March 2020 and have extended the limitation every month since.

Although the measures exclude trade, the tourism sector and airlines complain they are suffering.

"In the weeks to come, we will have more to say about the measures that we could relax for people who have had two doses," Trudeau told reporters. "Easing of restrictions will be focused on Canadians who are fully vaccinated."

Trudeau did not mention what measures could be taken for Americans who had received two doses, saying only that restrictions would remain until more people had received their second jabs.

Official data show that 42.6% of Americans have been fully vaccinated, versus 8% of Canadians.

In Washington, an official told Reuters the White House would announce it was launching an expert working group with Canada to determine how best to reopen travel safely.

Another official said that was a strong indication Washington would not move quickly to lift restrictions.

The office of Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau was not immediately available for comment.

Canadian officials have previously said the border should stay partially closed until 75% of the population has received their first shots and 20% their second.

A source familiar with the talks said Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair had told U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas that Canada could theoretically be able to admit fully vaccinated Americans by August.

The mayors of some border cities said on Monday they expected Canada to move as early as June 21.

The U.S. and Canadian chambers of commerce said the two governments should allow fully vaccinated travelers to cross starting on June 22.

U.S. Democratic Representative Brian Higgins, co-chair of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group, said in a separate statement that “we are learning plans are moving forward to provide for expanded crossing allowances.”

Reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by Bernadette Baum

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Thomson Reuters

Covers Canadian political, economic and general news as well as breaking news across North America, previously based in London and Moscow and a winner of Reuters’ Treasury scoop of the year.