On the eighth day of his 14 day quarantine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended Canada's phased approach to easing travel restrictions at the border.
"This is the first step of what will be a gradual, careful plan to safely reopen to travel," Trudeau said at a press conference on Monday. "The pandemic is not over, there [are] still variants circulating around the world, so there's a number of important measures that need to stay in place for now."
On Monday, the federal government announced that beginning on July 5, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents who are travelling will not be subject to federal quarantine requirements when returning to Canada.
Fully vaccinated travellers will not be required to take a COVID-19 test on Day 8 or stay at a government-authorized hotel, but all travellers, regardless of their vaccination status, will be required to take pre-departure and arrival COVID-19 tests.
A traveller is considered fully vaccinated when they have received the full series of the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines 14 days prior to entering Canada.
Why the borders aren't opening right away
The prime minister identified that people would like to see more loosened restrictions for travel, but maintained that the federal government's "gradual" approach is the safest way forward.
"We are looking at continuing our plan for gradual and safe reopening, hopefully with more announcements in the coming weeks about next and further steps," Trudeau said.
"But every step of the way we need to be careful because there is the situation of the level of vaccination in the country, we have to look at case levels in the country and outbreaks, we have to look at what variants of concern are present in Canada and indeed, the situation around the world, but every step of the way we’re going to be cautious and responsible in the way we move forward."
He also defended the government's move to maintain all border restrictions and quarantine rules for foreign nationals, including travellers from the U.S., due to concerns around transmission of COVID-19.
"The issue is that being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 protects you from the worst impacts, it does not necessarily protect you from transmitting COVID-19, even though you’re fully vaccinated, to someone who is partially or not vaccinated," Trudeau said.