VANCOUVER, July 15 (Reuters) – Canada will allow cruise ships to re-enter its waters starting November as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, but they must fully meet pending public health requirements, Ottawa said Thursday.
Earlier this year, Canada extended the cruise ship ban until February 2022, denouncing the need to protect public health. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement that the restriction will now be lifted on November 1, 2021.
“We will be welcoming cruise ships – an important part of our tourism sector – back to Canadian waters in the 2022 season,” he said.
The news should please major operators who complained that Canada’s ban is hurting their west coast business. US law requires foreign flag cruise ships sailing from Washington State to Alaska to make a Canadian stopover.
However, Canada has not yet lifted a ban on non-essential travel with the United States. A Canadian government official said the Alghabra announcement would allow both countries to work on ways to safely manage the cruise sector.
“We are working hard through our embassy, through our officials, myself, through our department and making sure we continue to work as usual,” Alghabra told reporters.
He gave no indication of when the US-Canada border would reopen to tourists.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Montreal on Thursday that Ottawa would announce the next steps to reopen the border in the coming weeks.
The day before, he had said it was “disastrous and heartbreaking to have to go back into lockdown, as some countries are now seeing with surges in the Delta variant because we were overly anxious to reopen for a few weeks “.
Additional coverage from David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by David Gregorio. Paul Simao and Jane Merriman
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