Will Canada be reopening the border to American tourists soon? This is the question currently being discussed, because many individuals are in a rush. They are eager to put an end to the ban, in effect until July 21.
Maybe you’re rolling your eyes, because such an idea seems harebrained to you. You’re not wrong, this haste is quite concerning.
One of the most hurried is Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney. During weekly meetings with his provincial counterparts, as well as with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he is putting on pressure to allow larger numbers of travelers into Canada within the near future.
But he is not the only one calling for relaxing measures that are preventing tourists from entering the country (or forcing Canadians to return to the country and self-quarantine for 14 days). More than one hundred actors within the tourism industry are in a hurry as well. They have just formed the Canadian Travel and Tourism Round Table in order to press for the renewal of their industry.
Their consternation is understandable; they are being hit with full force by these bans. Nevertheless, we cannot approve of such haste.
But the timing is not right. As recently as Monday, the World Health Organization reiterated that the pandemic is accelerating around the world. And you would have to be blind and deaf to want to welcome with open arms Americans wanting to see Mount Royal or Pierced Rock; the reports on the progression of COVID-19 in their country -– where more than 2.5 million cases have already been identified — are alarming.
Nearly half of American states have seen the number of cases rise over the course of the past two weeks. Some states, which initially reopened with much more enthusiasm than prudence, even had to back-track and once again prohibit activities that had been authorized within the past few weeks. Florida and Texas, being prime examples.
And in all likelihood, it will only get worse. White House coronavirus expert, Doctor Anthony Fauci, affirmed Tuesday that the country could reach 100,000 new cases per day if trends continue, compared to the current 40,000 per day.
The crisis is being handled pathetically by several leaders of our neighbors to the south. It is not just at the White House where superstition is in fashion; it is also the case in several state governments.
May we recall, in addition, that the United States played an important role in the emergence of the epidemic in Quebec. Among 1,620 travelers who were found positive for COVID-19, some 25% had been traveling in the States.
The risk is therefore great for a possible wave of American tourists in Canada starting a new surge in the spread of the virus.
A risk like that can simply not be taken when things are improving, while the balance remains precarious.
At the same time, Americans represent a threat to the health of Quebec’s population and the return to normality taking shape. Because the gesture to give a little help to the tourism industry would quite possibly put the revival of the whole economy in danger.
Do not forget that the border is only partially closed. Crucial infrastructure and supply routes have not been touched. Essential workers can still go from one side of the border to the other. Manufacturers and exporters say that, in general, they are satisfied by the measures in place.
Others understand the dangers awaiting them if they leave the field clear for American tourists. The European Union announced Tuesday that it is ready to reopen its borders to citizens of 15 countries, but Americans still won’t be allowed on account of the epidemiological situation.
And what of American states like New York or New Jersey, which have imposed a quarantine for visitors coming from states where the epidemic is not under control? Americans are protecting themselves from Americans! That says a lot!
On this issue, it is not the opinion of Jason Kenney that should prevail, but rather that of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who’s admitted to loving Americans while clarifying that he opposed, despite everything, the reopening of the border on July 21.
Reopening prematurely would be a demonstration of the same denial that led to a second wave of the pandemic for our neighbors.
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