While the travel news cycle is dominated by the recent reopening of European borders for American citizens, the US border with Canada, their neighbor to the north, remains closed.
The Canadian-American border has stayed shut with few exceptions for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that it has not been operating at its normal capacity since the middle of March 2020.
Despite calls from citizens and political leaders on both sides of the frontier to return to less restricted movement, neither government has relented, holding firm on their hesitancy to allow for more citizens, and possibly more coronavirus cases, to enter into their respective countries.
Once the border does fully reopen, officials have not yet announced what, if any, the COVID-related guidelines will be. Quarantine is not expected, but border-crossers may need to show proof of vaccination and or a recent negative PCR test.
As far as visas or visa-waiver systems, all US citizens, US permanent residents, Canadian residents, and Canadian passport holders will simply need to show their official government ID corresponding to whichever of those groups they fall into.
All other citizens who intend on visiting Canada will need to fill out the online Canadian eTA electronic travel authorization. Check here for more information and read on to find out the latest updates regarding if and when the Canadian-American border will fully reopen.
What Has Been Keeping the Canadian Border Shut?
Back when then-President Trump announced a ban on all non-essential travel, effectively closing both the Mexican and Canadian borders, there was no sense of just how long the restrictions would last.
Many people remained skeptical and thought that things were being blown out of proportion. Others believed that simply closing the borders was not enough and that the government should take even more dramatic measures to combat the spread of the highly contagious disease.
Health officials of both countries made it clear that their nations’ respective transmission rates and vaccination campaigns were the primary motivations for keeping the borders shut.
Canadian President Justin Trudeau stated that Canada was waiting until 75% of its population had received at least one dose of an approved vaccine before it would reopen for business.
Have There Been Any Updates On the Border?
Recently, there has been some good news on the subject. As a result of the Canadian population crossing the threshold established by President Trudeau, on July 19th, Canada announced that they would be beginning the process of re-welcoming in tourists from the United States.
Starting on August 9th, Canada will open its borders to citizens and permanent residents of the United States provided that they are a minimum of two weeks removed from their second vaccination (unless they have been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose).
Will the US Follow Suit and Reopen for Canadians?
The current restrictions on the border with Canada were set to expire on July 21st. There was speculation that the American government would take a page from Canada’s playbook and reopen their northern border.
Instead, the United States decided to proverbially kick the can down the road and extend their restrictions, with both the Canadian border and the Mexican border to the south, and make another decision on or before August 21st.
As Americans continue to wait for the next announcement, hoping they can once again welcome their family, friends, and employees from the north, one clear thing is that the American government’s decision will not be influenced by the opening of the Canadian border for Americans.
Is There A Lot of Demand for Americans to Travel?
Those American citizens who do not live or work near the Canadian border may be wondering if the closing of that border is such a big deal. The stigma of the migrant worker tends to come from the south as opposed to the north. However, it is not simply a question of employment.
Canada is a much more popular tourist destination for Americans than people may realize. Many of the things that Canada is known for are particularly attractive activities during the summer months. With the pandemic still raging, albeit at less troublesome numbers than this time last year, it is a perfect opportunity to get out into nature.
Canada is world-famous for its national park system and extensive lands to hike, fish, camp, mountain bike, and climb; all activities with social distancing built into them.
So while a border closure may feel to some as if it is being billed as a political issue, the reality is that it is biting into the possibility for leisure activities for many Americans, especially at a time when so many US adventurers are ready to resume travel.