A greeter wears a face mask as people wait for a table at a restaurant in Old Montreal, Sunday, May 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

A greeter wears a face mask as people wait for a table at a restaurant in Old Montreal, Sunday, May 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Prime minister: Canada won’t rush re-opening border with the U.S

Trudeau says any easing of restrictions needs to be done carefully and with Canadians’ safety in mind

Canada won’t be rushed into reopening its border with the United States to non-essential travel, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday as new COVID-19 case counts continued to drop in much of the country.

Calls for a reopening plan have started to intensify as vaccine coverage has increased on both sides of the border. The White House said last week it had not decided when or how to reopen the border with Canada, but business groups and lawmakers including Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and New York Rep. Brian Higgins have urged both countries to come up with a plan.

Trudeau said Monday that while many people are eager to see the border reopen, any easing of restrictions needs to be done carefully and with Canadians’ safety in mind.

“We’re on the right path, but we’ll make our decisions based on the interests of Canadians and not based on what other countries want,” he told a news conference in Ottawa.

Trudeau suggested 75 per cent of Canadians need to be vaccinated and daily cases need to continue to decline across the country before his government would be willing to ease travel restrictions.

“We all want to reopen, we all want to go back to travelling to see friends, take vacations, go on trips,” he said. “But we don’t want to have to close again, tighten up again because there’s another wave.”

The land border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020, and the measure was recently extended until June 21.

Trudeau’s words came as Ontario and Quebec reported their lowest numbers of new COVID-19 infections in months. Quebec reported fewer than 300 new COVID-19 cases for the first time since mid-September, with 276 new infections and one more death attributed to the novel coronavirus.

Several regions in Quebec were downgraded to orange from red on the province’s pandemic-alert system, allowing high school students to return full time to in-person classes and gyms and indoor restaurant dining to reopen.

Ontario reported 916 new cases of COVID-19, which is its lowest daily total since February. The last time that province reported fewer cases was on Feb. 17, with 847 new infections.

Many Ontarians aged 80 and up became eligible Monday to move up their second doses of COVID-19 vaccine after the government said last week it would shorten the minimum interval between shots to four weeks. Some health units, however, said they wouldn’t be able to immediately offer earlier second doses due to supply challenges.

Meanwhile, Nunavut’s chief public health officer said Monday that the territory will ease restrictions in Iqaluit later this week thanks to falling cases and high vaccine uptake.

The decision means schools can reopen for part-time in-class learning and people can gather in groups of five indoors and groups of 25 outdoors.

And case counts also continued their downward trend in Nova Scotia, which reported 17 new infections, while Saskatchewan reported its lowest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations since late November, with 108.

Manitoba announced it has approved administering Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines as booster shots for residents who got Oxford-AstraZeneca for their first dose. Dr. Joss Reimer, who is leading the province’s vaccine rollout, said the decision was made following the results of a study from Spain and after similar decisions had been made in Quebec and elsewhere.

In contrast to some other provinces, Manitoba has continued to struggle with high COVID-19 infection rates. The province reported more than 300 new infections on Monday and Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said there were still too many people in intensive care, which he said was putting pressure on the health system.

—Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Canada to receive 2.9M vaccine doses this week as Pfizer-BioNTech increase deliveries

RELATED: Survey show only 20 per cent of workers want to return to office full-time post-COVID

border agencyJustin TrudeauUSA

Just Posted

Dooris Raad was last seen in South Surrey’s Ocean Park neighbourhood on June 7. (Surrey RCMP photo)
(James Smith photo)
North Delta crime beat, week of May 31

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

The Lower Mainland Green Team and students from Earl Marriott Secondary remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Green Team returns to White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park to monitor previous work

Environmental volunteers, South Surrey students remove invasive species

People were lined up around the fields at a drop-in vaccine clinic at Newton Athletic Park on Tuesday (April 27, 2021), which is one of the high-transmission neighbourhoods that are being given vaccine priority. This clinic was one of at least three to open in the city on Tuesday. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey’s weekly cases continue to drop, push for 80% vaccination rate citywide

BCCDC reports 263 cases for Surrey the week of May 30 to June 5

Friends of Bear Creek Park held a ‘yellow-ribbon event’ on Saturday (June 12, 2021), with protesters at 84th Avenue and King George Boulevard and 84th Avenue and 140th Street. People were asked to tie a yellow ribbon in their yard “to celebrate and to show support for our trees in Bear Creek Park.” (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Protesters hold ‘yellow-ribbon’ event at Surrey’s Bear Creek Park

People asked to tie a yellow ribbon in their yard to ‘show support for our trees’

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read