(Washington) The White House is actively investigating how Americans will welcome foreign visitors back – including demanding vaccination records, which is unpopular in the United States – as businessmen on both sides of the world border put pressure on those elected in Congress People increase.
Posted on Aug 5, 2021 at 6:28 pm
James McCarten The Canadian press
Inter-agency task forces tasked with finding the best way to relax travel restrictions imposed at the beginning of the pandemic are considering demanding travel documentation from travelers, White House officials confirmed Thursday.
“It is definitely being investigated,” said US government spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who cited the highly contagious Delta variant as a key factor in the White House’s cautious approach.
“Given the current situation with the Delta variant, we plan to maintain the travel restrictions for the time being,” she added. However, our inter-agency working groups focus on […] Develop a plan for a coherent and safe international travel policy. ”
However, two key questions remained unanswered on Thursday: when the restrictions could be eased and whether the ongoing discussions include all of the asymmetrical measures currently in place for visitors from Canada.
In White House parlance, “international travel” usually refers to “intercontinental” visitors from a number of foreign countries including China, India, Ireland, Iran, Africa, the South, Brazil and the 26 European countries of the Schengen Area. While so-called “unnecessary” travel from Canada has been banned at land border crossings since March 2020, most Canadians arriving by plane, train or ship were exempt from these restrictions during the pandemic.
On the flip side, land border rules will become even more skewed on Monday when Canada begins allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated to enter the country. Britain has also eased restrictions on vaccinated Americans. However, the United States has not offered reciprocity to these two countries, although nearly 70% of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated and 81.7% have received at least one dose.
“We cannot live in fear because a percentage of people continue to hesitate [à se faire vacciner]said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a visit to Montreal on Thursday. That is why we will continue to try to get back to normal life: we will take in fully vaccinated tourists, first from the US, then from other countries. ”
Impatient business people
Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer for Canada, said the Delta variant is likely to pose a greater threat from transmission into the country than from visitors to the United States. Movements are being closely monitored so the government can quickly stop the fire if necessary, she said.
Respondents on both sides of the Canada-US border have now largely exhausted their patience while waiting for something similar from the US Department of Homeland Security. A coalition of US and Canadian business leaders, led by the North American Competitiveness Strategy, wants senior leaders in the US Congress to demand that the Department of Homeland Security fully reveal its strategy for the eventual reopening.
The coalition is particularly concerned about “enormous delays” at the border when customs officials have to verify vaccination status and COVID-19 test results of travelers at land border crossings. They believe that the US Border Protection Agency “does not appear to have developed a plan to safely reopen the inland ports without causing major delays.”
Neither Ms. Psaki nor Jeff Zients, COVID-19 coordinator for the White House, mentioned Canada at their respective press conference on Thursday. But they have made it clear that now is not the time to massively lift the restrictions. Working groups that include officials from Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the UK are exploring a “phased approach” that could include evidence of vaccination, Zients said.