It appears there is finally a reopening date for the US-Canadian border and it’s close, Australia… not so much.
Canada’s Policy Heretofore
Beginning in March of 2020, Canada officially closed its land borders with the United States. Each month since, the border closure has remained in place preventing Americans from entering Canada without specific waivers; the current pause is in place until July 21, 2021.
Just two months ago, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shed light on the metrics required to reopen the Canadian border with the US and much of the world. He initially drew a bright line:
“We’re all eager to get back to normal, but we know that before we get back to normal, cases need to be under control and over 75 percent of people need to be vaccinated. We’ll see what framework we apply to ensure we’re keeping Canadians safe, even as we look to eventually changing the restrictions and the posture at the border,” – Forbes
However, as the disparity between partially vaccinated (one shot of a two-shot treatment) and fully vaccinated widened, other governments began to lift travel restrictions. The Canadian government also observed the UK which has aimed to achieve at least one dose for eligible recipients to provide some level of coverage to as much of the population as possible.
When the PM set the benchmarks, just 4% of eligible Canadians were fully vaccinated, though a far higher percentage had at least one shot. Whether it was a clarification or a policy change, the new definition of “vaccinated” was at least one shot of an approved vaccine which moved the country far closer to achieving reopening along the lines of other western nations.
Why It Appears Canada’s Reopening Is Imminent
As of July 2, 2021, 68.7% of Canadians had at least one shot and 33.5% had been fully inoculated. With the policy clarification/change, simple math and new access to COVID-19 vaccines from US companies, it appears that Canada may reach its goal prior to July 21st allowing travel to Canada.
Currently, only permanent residents and those on essential travel are permitted to cross the border. If the trend line continues, it appears as though the border will once again reopen to nonessential travel allowing Americans to enter the country and visit Canada.
It is widely held that Canada will forgo their usual mid-month statement on the closure if it appears the threshold will be crossed imminently.
Australia Has Taken Exceedingly Drastic Measures
Australia has taken a different approach. Through the entire pandemic, Australia has restricted not only international travelers but its own citizenry from re-entering the country without a mandatory quarantine and in some cases, at all. Concerned about the Delta variant, Australia is heading in the opposite direction from the rest of the world by further restricting entry from 6,000 per week to just 3,000. To give some context, that’s less than one A380 of passengers per day allowed to enter the continent.
Just 6.8% of the country has been fully vaccinated, and just 24.6% have had at least one shot. However, Australia has also had a severe approach to the virus cutting off nearly all countries and its own people from entry. In the entire country on July 2nd (most recent reported totals at the time of publication), there were just 15 new cases.
Some have suggested that it will be 2024 before foreign business and tourism is welcomed back to the beautiful shores of Australia.
When Is It Too Cautious?
Every life is precious, every life is valuable, and as much as a government can protect its people, it should do so. However, this seems extreme. The last recorded fatality was October 19, 2020 – 8.5 months ago, the worst day during the entirety of the pandemic was September 4, 2020 with just 59 total deaths, an aspirational number by US standards.
What’s confounding is that Australia has announced a further regression of international travel policy despite the low case number, very few deaths, and positive progress toward vaccination. It’s worth repeating: while the situation is improving on nearly all fronts, and the country has one of the fewest case totals and deaths with improved access to vaccines, they are further closing the country.
Is there a point when one can be too careful? At a minimum, with no current spike in cases, no deaths in 8.5 months, is there a scientific justification to halving the current allowance of entrants? Is there a level on which this can still be classified as “following the science?”
If locking down humans despite no new medical concern hadn’t gone far enough, one county is even locking down cats. Knox county has issued a cat curfew:
The rule was introduced after a trial period last year which required cats to be confined overnight. It will come into force Oct. 1.
“When allowed to roam, cats are at a much higher risk of illness and injury,” Mayor Lisa Cooper said in a statement. “Keeping cats within their owners’ property also protects wildlife and prevents them causing nuisance for neighbors and their pets.” – NBC
…The rule was introduced after a trial period last year which required cats to be confined overnight. It will come into force Oct. 1.”
Fewer Australians are contracting the virus, more are vaccinated, no one has died in close to a year and yet this is cause for further concern. It seems fearless Australians are ignoring fact and reason in favor of protecting themselves against their own shadows, or the alley felines.
Canada has been very cautious, but set forth a reasonable plan too reopen, clarified that plan and has mostly aligned itself with the rest of the world as it pertains to vaccinated Canadians. Australia has lost its mind and grip on reality. While they may have virtually no cases and very few deaths, they are alienating themselves from the rest of the world and to the detriment of not only its economy but also to the people of Australia.
What do you think? Will Canada reopen its border on July 21, 2021? Is Australia being careful or overly cautious?