In a summary of a call between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial premiers, the prime minister's office stated that the government is engaging in "discussions with the United States on reopening plans" and that "we could expect to start allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into Canada as of mid-August for non-essential travel."
The announcement echoed a sentiment shared earlier by Quebec Premier François Legault who suggested Thursday that the federal government allow Americans to enter Canada before citizens of other countries, according to reports.
I spoke with @DLeBlancNB and the premiers this evening. We focused on COVID-19 and how we can keep people safe as w… https://t.co/kLSNbM06or
"If our current positive path of vaccination rate and public health conditions continue," the summary continued, "Canada would be in a position to welcome fully vaccinated travellers from all countries by early September."
About 80% of eligible Canadians have a first vaccine dose and 50% have a second dose, according to the statement.
Finally, the Canadian government is also discussing "the importance of working collaboratively on a proof of vaccination credential."
The airline is scheduling flights all over Canada including Montreal, Halifax, Moncton, Quebec City, St. John's, Thunder Bay, Toronto, and Ottawa as of September 8.
In a statement, Porter Airlines president and CEO Michael Deluce said that "this is the moment our team members, passengers and the communities we serve have been waiting for."
"While deciding to suspend our service was the most difficult business decision we've made, announcing a restart of flights is the first step in a recovery process that includes recalling hundreds of team members and welcoming back passengers."
Porter will also soon resume its international flights to U.S. cities including Boston, Chicago, New York and Washington as of September 17.
For added peace of mind, Porter Airlines customers will be happy to know that "all fares purchased by July 20, for travel through December 15, 2021, [are] fully refundable, with no fees."
The premier said Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé will disclose details of the vaccine passport in Quebec in the coming days.
Why does Legault think Quebec needs a vaccine passport?
Legault said that though the recent rise in new COVID-19 cases in Quebec is low compared to other countries, Quebec has entered the start of a fourth wave of COVID-19. Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said there was evidence of a fourth wave in Canada on July 30.
"We will be giving certain privileges to those who have accepted the effort to go and get two doses," Legault said.
"[Those people] have to live a semi-normal life [and] have to be able to have access to all activities, including non-essential activities like going to a restaurant."
The premier said that in Quebec, 83% of the population over 12 years old has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 67% of the population has received two.
"Right now the people finding themselves in the hospital, the large majority were not vaccinated," Legault said.
"Nobody in Quebec wants to relive what we lived last year, [...] being obliged to postpone surgeries because our hospitals are full," he said.
However, Legault confirmed that the province is maintaining the objective of having students on all levels — from elementary to university — return to school in-person this fall.
How could Quebec's vaccine passport be used?
In Quebec's July 8 announcement of its vaccine passport plan, the ministry of health said it would not be used to access essential or public services, like hospitals, schools and elections — but it could be implemented for non-essential services in high-risk activities like gyms, team sports, bars and restaurants.
The vaccine passport could also be implemented in moderate or low-risk activities that involve large groups of people, like arts and entertainment shows, festivals and sporting events.
On Tuesday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé tweeted that the COVID-19 situation in Quebec's Mauricie region was "worrying," particularly among unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated 18- to 30-year-olds, as cases in Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec jumped from 17 to 146 between July 22 and August 2.
"As elsewhere in the world, the recent increase in the number of cases is worrying," Legault tweeted.
"We will be announcing new measures in the coming days."
On August 4, the province reported a total of 184 new cases of COVID-19 in Quebec.
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"[The forecast] suggests that we are at the start of the Delta-driven fourth wave," Tam said.
However, she said the trajectory could change with rising numbers of fully vaccinated Canadians, as well as the "timing, pace and extent of reopening."
While some resurgence of the virus is expected as cities across Canada ease their public health restrictions, according to Tam, a rapid rise in new COVID-19 cases could mean that the country is reopening too quickly.
The updated modelling data showed that if Canadians increase their daily contacts with others by 25%, Canada could see at least 10,000 new cases daily by September.
Based on data from 11 provinces and territories, Tam said that from mid-December to July 12, only 0.5% of new cases were found in fully vaccinated Canadians. Unvaccinated Canadians made up 89.7% of new cases in the same time period.
In a July 29 tweet, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said the province is in a "better position every day" to combat the Delta variant in Quebec.