Travel industry and lawmakers on both sides of our northern border and on both sides of the pond bemoan the lack of progress—or any clear, data-based direction—in reopening this summer.
|BREAKING NEWS — Canada has now laid out details about looser border restrictions starting July 5 for fully vaccinated citizens, residents, and other eligible individuals. The Trudeau government still has no timeline for when it will crack open its door to nonessential foreign travelers. — (Source: Politico)
O Canada, Looks Like It Will Be a While Longer…
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said that non-essential travel restrictions will remain in place until July 21, 2021. Closed since March 2020, businesses, lawmakers, and families on both sides of the border have recently been pushing for a relaxation of border restrictions, particularly as vaccination rates climb in both countries. Border status is being reviewed monthly.
“We are disappointed by this announcement,” Tourism Industry Association of Canada President & CEO Beth Potter said in an email to Canadian Travel News. “We will continue to take our message about the urgent need to open the US Canada border to the government. “The longer the border is closed, the greater the risk that a second summer season is lost for Canadian travel and tourism operators,” she said.
Calling it “a hammer blow for the tourism industry,” Travel Industry Association of Ontario President & CEO Chris Bloore said in an email to that publication, “Uncertainty is killing our industry. The jobs that provide Ontarians their livelihoods may never return and the damage to our industry could become permanent.”
Co-chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) was succinct. He was joined by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) in voicing “simply unacceptable” dismay in a public statement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated the border would stay shut until 75% of Canadians had received the first of a two-dose coronavirus vaccine and 20% had both shots. Official data showed 73.4% of eligible Canadians had received their first shot while 5.5% has had both shots, according to Reuters.
Boris Drags His Feet in Britain
“The UK travel industry is so damn angry,” writes a CNN reporter covering the latest rant from the owner of Trailfinders, one of the the UK’s largest travel agencies, in an email to 1.2 million customers. Ryanair teamed up with Manchester Airports Group, filing paperwork at England’s High Court over the lack of clarity. “Other airlines are expected to join the legal action,” reports Reuters.
In 2021 so far: Non-essential travel was deemed illegal, attracting a fine up to £5,000 ($7,000) as of March 2021. Britain allowed vacations to resume in May after months of lockdown, but classified most countries as red (travel prohibited) placing popular destinations, including the U.S., in amber (caution do not proceed) under its traffic light system.
When Portugal, the only permissible sunny destination (not counting war-torn Israel, tiny Gibraltar, and Australia / New Zealand where borders are shut tight) was pulled from the very short green list 17 days later, chaos ensued as royally pissed off Britons scrambled to get back from holiday.
|It is widely pointed out that travel corridors existed in summer 2020 that do not exist in summer 2021, after 50% of the UK population has been fully vaccinated and 42 million of the 53 million adults have received one dose.
“Many within the travel industry have called for the establishment of a UK-US travel corridor, with both countries vaccinating their populations at pace,” reports The Telegraph.
A joint travel task force is said to be working on a UK/US travel corridor as you read this, and is due to report back next month. Meantime, hopes are low for the USA to shift from amber to green this week when 10 Downing Street issues an update to the traffic light nations.
|The European Union has now added the United States to its safe travel list, opening up travel for American citizens to all 27 member states, which no longer includes the United Kingdom.
Roger Dow, president & CEO of U.S. Travel Association said, “The UK’s decision to put the United States on their amber status for reopening just isn’t backed by the science. Putting the US on amber status ignores the scientific data regarding increasing vaccination rates, lower infection rates and that the US has the right strategies in place to mitigate risk. The US needs to demonstrate leadership and come to the table with the UK and increase dialogue to allow for a reopening of travel with one of our most important international partners.”
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have also made calls for the restart of US-UK travel. The Association of British Travel Agents is joining an industry-wide day of action on 28 June, as is the British Airline Pilots Association, blaming Downing Street for “ludicrously cautious restrictions on international travel” that keeps the UK way behind Europe on the road to recovery.
Progress had been anticipated following Biden-Johnson talks at the G7 in Cornwall. Meantime, inbound U.S. travel from top international markets continues to suffer.