Travel industry, health experts applaud U.S. decision to allow travellers with mixed doses
TORONTO -- The organization representing Canada's tourism industry is applauding the U.S. government's decision to allow Canadian travellers with mixed vaccine doses once the border opens in November.
On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that travellers with "any combination" of two doses of vaccines approved by the World Health Organization or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “are considered fully vaccinated.”
Beth Potter, who is president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, says the announcement is "really good news."
"What it does is it provides a little bit more clarity, and this is something that we've talked about a lot. We know now that if you've got that mixed dose, as of November you're going to be able to enter into the United States," she told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
Infectious disease expert Isaac Bogoch of the University Health Network in Toronto says allowing mixed dosed travellers is "a smart and data driven approach."
"This will be a huge relief to many Canadians who did the right thing and got vaccinated and even took those mixed and matched vaccine approaches. It's safe, it's effective, and now there's a recognition of this," Bogoch said in an interview with CTV News Channel on Saturday.
"I'm really happy to hear this. It's about time."
This announcement came after the White House confirmed that the U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico would be open to fully vaccinated tourists by Nov. 8.
On the American side, the U.S. Travel Association also applauded the Biden Administration's plans to reopen the border.
"Reopening to international visitors will provide a jolt to the economy and accelerate the return of travel-related jobs that were lost due to travel restrictions," said association president and CEO Roger Dow in a statement on Friday.
"We applaud the administration for recognizing the value of international travel to our economy and our country, and for working to safely reopen our borders and reconnect America to the world."
But while the U.S. won't require Canadians to show proof of vaccination to cross, returning to Canada requires a negative PCR test conducted at most 72 hours before crossing the border.
PCR tests can cost upwards of $200. The Canadian government does not accept rapid antigen tests, which can be had for only $40.
Brian Higgins, a New York congressman whose district includes the border cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, wants to see Canada drop the COVID-19 PCR test requirement.
"I think that the U.S. decision to allow Canadians coming into the United States without a test again underscores the potency of the vaccine," Higgins told The Canadian Press on Friday. "I would like to see that reciprocated by our Canadian neighbours."
However, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said that Canada will continue to require PCR tests so long as the Public Health Agency of Canada advocates for it.
"We've seen throughout the pandemic that advice has evolved as new evidence and new data is available. We'll continue to follow the advice in the Public Health Agency Canada," he said in an interview with CTV’s Question Period on Sunday.