Canada lifted its ban on Americans crossing the border for shopping, vacations or sightseeing on Monday, but the United States maintains similar restrictions for Canadians, as part of a bumpy return to normal following the Covid-19 travel bans.
U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents must both be fully vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19 within three days to cross one of the world’s longest and busiest land borders. Travelers must also complete a detailed application on the ArriveCAN app before crossing.
Even though travelers must register, the Canada Border Services Agency will not say how many people they expect to enter Canada for reopening. But travelers should allow for the possibility of additional processing time at the border.
“The CBSA will not compromise the health and safety of Canadians in the name of border wait times,” agency spokesperson Rebecca Purdy said in a statement.
Although the Canada Border Services Agency does not say how many people it expects, Garnet Health, a company based in Essex, Vermont, which offers Covid-19 tests on the same day, has seen the number of tests that ‘she has more than tripled in recent weeks. The increase coincides with Canada’s decision last month to drop the two-week quarantine requirement for its citizens upon their return from the United States
“I imagine that once that border opens, we’ll see a lot of people,” said Chelsea Sweeney, director of business development for the company.
The Canada-U.S. Border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020 in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The United States has said it will extend its closure to all Canadians on non-essential travel until at least August 21, which also applies to the Mexican border. But the Biden administration is starting to plan for a gradual reopening. The main requirement would be that almost all foreign visitors to the United States be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
But Canadians do not expect reciprocal rules.
Joel Villanueva, owner of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock, British Columbia, about 2.5 miles north of the US border, is more than ready for the Americans to return.
“Let’s keep this thing running,” he said. “A lot of our customers are from the United States and we’re literally minutes across the border. We welcome our Americans and we depend on their foot traffic. “
Villanueva said he supports people who are fully vaccinated and doesn’t think there will be a rush of Americans at first. But if his restaurant and dozens of others along the waterfront could fill tables with American visitors every day for the rest of the summer, that would be a big financial boost, he said.
Near the border in Washington state, Carroll Solomon, a board member for the Blaine Chamber of Commerce, called the reopening a step in the right direction for business. But she also said it was of some concern due to an increase in Covid-19 cases nationwide as the highly contagious delta variant spreads.
“For people who have to travel there (to Canada) for family reasons, it’s wonderful,” said Solomon, who also volunteers at the Blaine Tourist Information Center.
With all the hurdles people have to go through – getting fully vaccinated, getting tested for Covid-19, and uploading that information to an app – she doesn’t think people will be going to Canada on many day trips.
“I have a lot of friends on the Canadian side and would love to go out for lunch with someone, but you can’t just do that; you have to plan days in advance to make sure you can make it through,” said Solomon.
It will be an event for the Blaine area that Canadians can come to regularly, she said.
On returning to the United States from Canada, US Customs and Border Protection spokesman Jason Givens has said there is no need to show proof of vaccination or a test. Covid-19 negative.
“CBP officers handled essential travel throughout the pandemic and remain ready and able to process US citizens and permanent residents returning from Canada,” Givens said via email.
Steve Blake, who lives in Stanstead, Quebec, just across the border from Derby Line, Vermont, hopes his siblings living in the United States can visit Canada soon so they can organize a memorial service for their mother who died in early 2020, just before the pandemic closed the border. But given the demands, he’s not sure how quickly that will happen.
“I would like it to be as soon as possible,” he said.
Baumann reported from Seattle, and Ring from Montpellier, Vermont.