This week, CBC Ottawa asked experts to answer five questions that might concern people.
When can we travel abroad again?
An Ottawa travel agency said newly vaccinated people were booking vacations as early as September to places like Cuba and Mexico.
“It has been linked to the roll-out of the vaccination, for sure. People just think they’re going to be vaccinated by September, so they can travel safely after that, ”said Carolyn, president of Centrum Travel-CWT Vacations. Pernari.
But epidemiologist Raywat Deonandan says large-scale pleasure travel around the world may not return for a few years, until most countries end their epidemics with vaccines.
Travel should only take place after people have received their second dose, he said, which means there is no travel until fall for many Canadians.
As for crossing the border with the United States, if the borders reopen, travel between the two countries could be “robust enough” by September and October, Deonandan said. Only if both populations have low case counts and high vaccination rates.
When can we stop wearing masks?
To answer that, let’s look south of the border.
The United States relaxed its mask-wearing rules at the end of April and now allows fully vaccinated Americans to ditch the mask outdoors when gathering with multiple households, and even with people unvaccinated in small groups.
More than half of American adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and about 43% were fully vaccinated as of Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Compare that to here, where less than 3% of adults are fully vaccinated.
COVID-19 modeling researcher in Ottawa, Doug Manuel, says vaccinations are the key to losing the mask.
As more people get vaccinated and the number of cases is brought under control, restrictions could be eased in stages, Manuel said.
As to whether to discard outdoor masks first or reopen indoor meals, that depends on policy experts. The models for Ontario suggest that cases could fall at the end of August “in good scenarios,” he added.
When can we stop working from home?
Canada’s largest employer, the federal government, says back-to-work talks are not even on the radar.
“I certainly don’t expect our members to return to work until we know for sure across the country… that we are under control of this pandemic,” said Chris Aylward, National President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). , which represents more than 300,000 federal employees across the country.
Most of the union members had been working from home for a year. And the government says it plans to be flexible in post-pandemic working arrangements.
Business experts say some people may never fully return to work in person. Return can also be a “great source of conflict” between employers and employees, they say.
When will the Canada-US border reopen?
Foreign policy experts believe the border could reopen in late summer or fall – but it’s complicated.
The border has been closed to non-essential travel like tourism and recreation since March 2020, and the closure agreement between Ottawa and Washington is expected to be renewed on May 21.
Aaron Ettinger, associate professor at Carleton University, says that once the two countries deal with public health issues, they will need to work on policy.
“Politically, the United States and Canada should get on the same page… and that would require a lot of cross-border diplomatic interactions,” he said.
Melissa Haussman, professor of political science at Carleton University, says the two populations should not only reach a certain vaccination threshold, but also be satisfied with each other’s levels before engaging in discussions.
“I think it’s probably in a few months,” she said.
When can we return to large gatherings?
Large outdoor festivals and sweaty concerts – which have been completely closed in the Ottawa area for a year – may return as early as the end of summer, but it depends on the will of the company.
Manuel, who is also a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, said public health officials need to weigh two things: the risk of transmission versus the value the community places on this setting.
“I think it’s a bit of a math,” he said. “So how quickly are we going to get back to large gatherings?” If we put a lot of emphasis on that, we could bring it back before, say, restaurants or schools.
Meanwhile, festival organizers say they are planning concerts as early as September.
“Work continues on this. But we’ll see where the numbers go, ”said Joe Reilly, spokesperson for the CityFolk and Bluesfest music festivals in Ottawa.