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Potential border reopening remains in flux as feds extend restrictions to late July

Officials expected to provide more details about international travel on Monday
The Peace Arch border crossing.

Canadians hoping to resume non-essential travel to other countries and tour operators banking on a flood of international visitors will have to wait for now.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair revealed Friday the country is extending pandemic-induced border restrictions from June 21 to July 21.

This comes amid growing pressure from businesses, individuals and American officials to loosen restrictions at the international border.

“As we have said, the government is planning measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents and others who are currently permitted to enter Canada,” Blair said in a tweet.

Government officials are expected to offer more details on those upcoming measures on Monday.

Canada is set to slightly loosen restrictions for its own citizens returning home beginning next month.

Instead of quarantining 14 days, fully vaccinated Canadians will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure.

Travellers will need to take another test upon arrival before self-isolating until the second test comes back negative.

“I get people’s impatience, both in the tourism industry and individual Canadians who want to travel,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a video conference following Blair’s announcement.

He added the country is currently developing a means of showing proof of vaccination to enable international travel.

But efforts to develop a vaccine passport are complicated by Canada’s constitution: Healthcare falls within the domain of provinces, while borders are the domain of the federal government, 

Trudeau pointed out that the federal government does not have access to vaccination records and will need to work with provinces to access that data so citizens can provide acceptable proof of vaccination when travelling abroad.

“The urgency of coming up with a secure, reliable, probably digital proof of vaccination is something that we’re working collaboratively with provinces and there may have to be a transitional measure, for example, if there’s a phased adjustment of border measures in July or later in August,” Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LaBlanc said on Tuesday.

“It’s a collaborative effort to respect provincial jurisdiction around the data — that healthcare data of citizens — but at the same time accepting that the international context will, in all likelihood, require some reliable national proof of vaccination.”