Some restrictions to be relaxed for fully vaccinated travellers come July
The Canadian government is planning a slow and steady approach to ease the restrictions on cross-border travel.
Windsor-Essex Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says he welcomes an eventual easing of restrictions, but notes cross-border travel comes with risks and challenges.
“I think we just need to be careful in who we are allowing and what criteria we are using to allow these people to travel,” he says.
The federal government announced Wednesday, three-day hotel quarantines for returning air travellers and two-week self-isolation periods could be over in July for those who are fully vaccinated.
Ahmed says proper precautions are needed saying the active case rate in Windsor-Essex remains a concern.
“Our active cases have gone down less than 150 in our community which is great, but that means there are still 150 people that we are aware of that are currently infectious,” he says.
The region’s top doctor says since Windsor is a border city, there are residents who could have been vaccinated stateside, without being in the local health unit’s system.
“How do we even know about those people? What is happening to the people who are crossing the border every day? We don’t have some of those systems in place,” he says.
Ahmed explains immunization cards, similar to those in Manitoba, could be the eventual reality, but wants to ensure systems are in place to see only fully vaccinated travellers return at the border.
“We truly want to see that enforced appropriately and ensuring that anyone who is visiting or travelling are fully vaccinated,” he says.
The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable said the federal government plan doesn’t go far enough to allow Canadians the chance to plan their summer.
Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island CEO Gordon Orr welcomes the idea of less travel restrictions, but tells CTV News a heads-up to allow the industry a chance to prepare is crucial.
“Make no mistake, we want to do it in a meaningful, measured way, we just want to know what the plan is so the industry can brace themselves and prepare for it.”
Orr notes the tourism sector was among the first impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to be among the last to recover.
“There’s planning for staff, there’s planning for staff training recruitment, operational supplies.” Orr says, “Our hope is to save a much of the tourism industry this summer season as we can. Opening up the border is something we’re all looking forward to at the right time."