As U.S. reopens its border, some ask: Can Canada relax that testing requirement?Alexander PanettaWorld |October 13|

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This item is part of Watching Washington, a regular dispatch by businesshala News correspondents reporting on American politics and developments affecting Canadians.

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America is about to open its land border for non-essential travel. And it will not require visitors to show a negative COVID-19 test; Proof of vaccination will suffice.

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Call for Canada to apply the same standard.

Members of the US Congress have sent letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of parliament asking Canada to drop the test requirement for vaccinated travelers.

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A Congress member said the hassle of getting the test done would discourage people from taking advantage of the restored right to cross-border travel.

New York Democrat Brian Higgins said proof of vaccination should suffice.

“Testing is redundant,” he said on Wednesday. “That would make a lot of Canadians reluctant to immigrate to the United States. … there’s a cost associated with it. It’s also an additional administrative step that I think is unnecessary.”

what is the context

These calls to eliminate testing requirements have a major goal: to attract More Canadian travelers. Same day trips represent a large percentage of Canadian trips to the United States.

According to Data from Statistics CanadaIn 2019, day trips comprised nearly half of all Canadian trips to the US – and two-thirds of all trips made by car.

Current Canadian testing requirements make this difficult.

To enter Canada, recreational travelers must provide proof of a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. It may not be a rapid antigen test, but there should be a molecular test.

This one to two days To obtain those results at a major US pharmacy chain and can cost US$139 per sample.

This is an issue for the border communities that rely most on day trips, such as Buffalo, NY, for example, which Higgins represents in Congress.

Point Roberts, Wash., is another striking case.

same day trip have devastated economy of that community. The city relies on people in the Vancouver area to head to the seaside, dine at a restaurant and pick up some groceries or gas before returning to Canada.

Brian Calder, the head of the local Chamber of Commerce, says he worries the new travel rules won’t make sense until Canada relaxes its rules.

The small community has only two testing clinics per week, Calder said. It takes more than a day to get results and costs US$150.

“[Canadians] won’t come down [with these rules],” he told businesshala News.

what will happen next

The White House has announced that recreational travel in America by land will resume next month.

Travelers will need proof of vaccination, but a White House official said: “No, testing will not be required.”

Higgins said members of Congress would write to Trudeau and other members of parliament urging them to adopt more liberal US rules on testing.

He said officials are erasing their own message that vaccines work well by setting additional requirements beyond vaccination.

Will Canada heed the call for easing testing requirements?

Ottawa is not saying anything about it yet. A Canadian official said there was no news to share on testing requirements.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the long-term rules had not yet been finalised. During a visit to Washington on Wednesday, he repeated the same answer when asked by reporters about testing rules in French and English.

“We are working with our US partners to clarify and finalize all the details,” Freeland said.

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