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COVID-19: Pressure mounts to reopen borders as Montreal’s tourism industry continues to struggle

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Quebec tourism industry taking a hit' COVID-19: Quebec tourism industry taking a hit
wATCH: Montreal-area business leaders are putting pressure on the federal government to open up borders to non-essential travellers. They argue fully vaccinated travellers should be allowed to enter the country. Global's Tim Sargeant has more – Jul 14, 2021

Airport, tourism and business leaders insist the time has arrived for the Trudeau government to reopen the borders to all non-essential foreign travellers if they have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines approved by Public Health Canada.

Currently, the border is only open to essential foreign travellers or Canadians returning from abroad.

The closed border is taking a toll on the economy including tourism.

The Aéroports de Montréal is expected to receive three million passengers this year instead of the 20 million that normally travelled through prior to the pandemic.

And only a fraction of the 2.5 million annual Americans who normally visit are expected to make a trip here this year.

Read more: Canada won’t be welcoming unvaccinated tourists any time soon: Trudeau

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“French, German, English people, American people cannot come into Canada yet,” Christophe Hennebelle, Transat V.P. Corporate Affairs, said at a press conference at the Trudeau Airport.

Fully inoculated Canadians are allowed to travel to some foreign countries and officials want the same privileges granted to foreigners wanting to visit Canada.

“If you have a double Pfizer in Canada, why a double Pfizer in the U.S. is not having the same effect?” Michel Leblanc, the CEO of Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal, said.

And the former premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, who is now a member of the Wilson Center Task Force on recommendations for the Canada-U.S. border told Global News a gradual reopening of the border needs to be in place to allow fully inoculated Americans to visit.

“I think we’re looking at a scenario where we’re all safe on both sides of the border,” Charest told Global News.

Read more: Quebec says 2nd vaccine dose allowed for those with previous COVID-19 infection

Vaccination rates are ramping up in both the U.S. and Canada but the Delta variant is of growing concern and cases are rising among those who haven’t received a vaccine.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not in a hurry to reopen the borders.

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“As eager as people are to open up, I know nobody wants to have to go backwards. So as we have been every step of the way, we’re going to be cautious, responsible and take things step by step,” Trudeau said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

The deadline on the borders remaining closed to all non-essential travellers expires July 21.

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