Omar Alghabra attends a news conference, Wednesday January 15, 2020 in Ottawa. Alghabra says he cannot yet commit to a date — or COVID-19 vaccination benchmarks — for when so-called vaccine passports will allow Canada to wind down quarantines and open its borders. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Omar Alghabra attends a news conference, Wednesday January 15, 2020 in Ottawa. Alghabra says he cannot yet commit to a date — or COVID-19 vaccination benchmarks — for when so-called vaccine passports will allow Canada to wind down quarantines and open its borders. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Too early to set a date on loosening travel restrictions: Canada’s transport minister

Omar Alghabra says country still waiting on public health advice and evidence for vaccine passports

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says he cannot yet commit to a date — or COVID-19 vaccination rate benchmarks — for when so-called vaccine passports will allow Canada to ease travel restrictions.

Speaking at a virtual news conference today, he says decisions around the hotel quarantine for air passengers and eventual reopening of the border will hinge on public health advice and unspecified “data and evidence” tied to the pandemic.

Alghabra says the travel and aviation sectors will take off again “when it’s safe.”

Alghabra has stressed the need for a “common platform” to identify travellers’ vaccination status, saying today that he is working with G7 countries and the European Union to integrate vaccine certification into international travel in the months ahead.

The EU took a step toward relaxing travel rules for tourists from outside the 27-nation bloc Wednesday when ambassadors agreed on measures to allow in fully vaccinated visitors, though a date remains to be set.

The EU ambassadors also agreed to ease the criteria needed for nations to be considered COVID-19 safe and from which all tourists can travel, depending on their coronavirus and vaccination status.

— With files from The Associated Press

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