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Tourism minister in talks with international counterparts about how to safely open up travel

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OTTAWA —
The federal tourism minister spoke with her G20 counterparts about how to resume safe international travel, a plan that may include a vaccine certificate of sorts as a pre-boarding requirement.

Melanie Joly told CTV News Channel that following the virtual meeting on Tuesday, discussions are underway to determine what can be done to help replenish the sector once the third wave of COVID-19 subsides and vaccinations ramp up.

“I know that everybody’s excited to be one day travelling again and quite frankly, usually Canada is one of the countries where people travel the most per capita, but we need to make sure that it’s done in a way that we can protect the health of Canadians so that’s why we’re having conversations with different countries,” she said on Wednesday.

She didn’t provide details about what a passport, certification, or some other form of vaccination documentation could look like, but did say the talks are focused on what steps can be taken after everyone in Canada is fully vaccinated.

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“Everyone that wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated by September, so we’re really talking about after that, what can be done and we’ll always follow the public health advice,” Joly said.

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The Biden administration has indicated the government won’t be mandating vaccine certification for Americans but it encouraged private businesses to go about it in the way they see fit.

“The government is not now, nor will be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential. There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the time.

The U.S. is aiming to have 70 per cent of adults vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4 in an effort to scale down public health restrictions.

Asked whether the Canada-U.S. border would open up at that time, Joly said the government is engaging with U.S. officials but added that Canada is leading the way on border technology with its ArriveCAN app that provides travel information upon entry into the country.

“We know we’ve developed this technology in the context of COVID-19 and definitely we have different scenarios in mind when thinking of what will be the next steps but we know that we have a best practice already in our toolbox,” she said.

According to CTV News’ COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, more than 13 million first doses have been administered across the country, which equates to just above 35 per cent of the population being at least partially immunized.

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