Canada works on vaccinations and safe tourism designation - minister


FILE PHOTO: Nurses from Humber River Hospital's mobile vaccine clinic administer the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a Toronto Community Housing building, as part of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination campaign, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 13, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is working with international partners to develop a standardized vaccine certification for travel and will position itself as a safe destination once the country has reached COVID-19 herd immunity, the tourism minister said on Tuesday.

Canada currently has a higher infection rate than the United States as it rolls out vaccines during a third wave. The country has fully inoculated only 3% of its almost 38 million people, though more than 34% have received a first dose and millions of doses are arriving each week.

"Clearly as vaccination is being rolled out, we will position ourself as a safe destination," Tourism Minister Melanie Joly said in a telephone interview after attending a virtual meeting with her G20 counterparts earlier in the day.

She provided no further details. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said everyone who wants to can be fully vaccinated by the end of September.

Canada's land border with the United States has been closed to non-essential travel since March of last year, and those arriving by plane must be tested and quarantine themselves.

The third wave gripping the country now has dimmed the hopes of airlines and the tourism sector for renewed travel this summer.

"Definitely there will still be a lot of local and regional travel" this summer, Joly said.

On Tuesday, Trudeau said talks are ongoing with international partners for a vaccine certification. Joly said talks were ongoing with G7 partners and some G20 countries.

"It would make sense for us to align with partners around the world on some sort of proof of vaccination or vaccine certification," Trudeau told reporters.

In January, Trudeau told Reuters in an interview that he was against vaccine passports because he said they could be "divisive".

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by David Gregorio)

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