The U.S. State Department confirmed to Global News that it had to release a “corrected” travel advisory update, after mistakenly announcing that its travel advisory alert for Canada had been raised to a “level 4,” which means “do not travel.” The statement was reported by several media outlets.
So while Americans are still being told to “reconsider” plans to travel to Canada — a “level 3” designation — they aren’t being urged to cancel them altogether.
Multiple countries, including Switzerland, Laos and Estonia, were actually slapped with the highest alert level by the U.S. this week due to the rising spread of COVID-19.
The State Department’s website describes Level 4 as the “highest advisory level” due to the “greater likelihood of life-threatening risks.”
“During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so,” the website explained.
Canada’s COVID-19 cases have been trending upwards recently in what experts are warning is a fourth wave driven by the Delta variant. Canada reported just over 2,700 new cases on Monday, and it has over 31,000 active COVID-19 cases across the country.
The United States, however, has been seeing much higher case numbers. There have been over 158,000 daily average COVID-19 cases reported daily over the past week, according to the New York Times. That’s about 272 active cases per 100,000 people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s tracker.
Canada, meanwhile, has just nine cases per 100,000 people, according to the New York Times.
For the first time in 16 months, Canada reopened its land borders for fully vaccinated Americans on Aug. 9, but the U.S. has yet to reciprocate.
American travellers who are fully vaccinated don’t have to quarantine upon arrival in Canada, but they’re required to show a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival and provide proof of vaccination by way of the ArriveCAN smartphone app or web portal.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is seeking re-election, stood by the decision when pressed on it by reporters on Tuesday.
“We have brought measures in that allow fully vaccinated Americans to come to Canada because we know that getting back to normal quickly is something we want to do, and if people are fully vaccinated, they are low risk. Extremely low risk,” he said.
“There is a fourth wave, primarily around the unvaccinated, people unable or unwilling to get vaccinated right now, that is cause for concern. But that is why we are continuing to encourage and to create motivation and accountability and mandates and support passports so that more and more people get vaccinated.”
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole agreed that Americans should continue to be allowed into Canada.
“We need to make sure that we keep our economy open and the border open, safely,” he said.
“We can do that by leveraging the levels of vaccination, of course, in our country and in the United States, but also faster access with daily rapid testing.”
Over 82 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and over 74 per cent are fully vaccinated, according to Health Canada.
The United States hasn’t been quite as enthusiastic in its uptake of the vaccine. Just over 61 per cent of Americans have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to the CDC, and a little over 52 per cent are fully vaccinated.
The U.S. has extended land border restrictions — in place since March 2020 — for Canadians and Mexicans until Sept. 21.
–With files from Global News’ Saba Aziz