Fully vaccinated Americans could be cleared for non-essential travel by mid-August, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the country's premiers Thursday.
Global News reports that relaxed border rules could also extend to other international travellers who are vaccinated by early September at current COVID-19 vaccination rates.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Thursday that further information would be revealed in the coming days as Thursday's meeting with the premiers was to debate this further. He added that they are "approaching the issue with caution," citing the "threat" posed by COVID-19 variants, reports CTV News.
"We'll have more to say about specific measures over the coming days and weeks but we think it’s important to remind Canadians that there are still some significant challenges with COVID-19. Vaccinations are by far the best protection that people can have," said LeBlanc.
To date, 80 percent of Canadians eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine have at least received one dose, and over half are fully vaccinated.
Currently, non-essential travel at the Canada-US border expires on July 21, which is expected to receive one more one-month extension before fully vaccinated travellers can resume cross-border travel. On July 5, the federal government eased restrictions for its fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents to forgo the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
Other eligible travellers approved for cross-border travel include immediate and extended family members, an individual participating in sports internationally, "essential workers," some international students, and those permitted for "compassionate reasons." Those travelling for recreational purposes were not included among those eligible for travel.
"The more protected we are as an entire population, the more resilient we would be in terms of any potential of what we call an important of cases," said Leblanc. "Of course, the wild card that everyone’s well aware of is the variants."
Now, there are fewer deaths and hospitalizations nationwide and less than 500 new infections are typically reported a day.
However, only 65 percent of eligible Americans have at least one dose, despite 56.5 percent being fully vaccinated—higher than Canada. On Thursday, the Angus Reid Institute Thursday indicated that 69 percent of Canadians want a 75 percent vaccination threshold at minimum before further border relaxations are approved.
Because of greater transmission rates of the Delta variant and significant vaccine resistance in the US, caseloads have started to rise again, according to Global News. About 40 percent of surveyed Canadians said in the same poll that the vaccine threshold should exceed 75 percent to prevent another wave and protect the health of Canadian citizens.