U.S.-Canada Border’s Full Opening in November Spurs Travel Plans

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US cross-border restrictions are set to lift next month, and Canadians are putting shopping trips, family reunions and vacations back on the agenda

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With shopping trips, family reunions and vacations back on the agenda for Canadians like Ms Pearce, the US will now allow non-essential trips to fully vaccinated travelers at crossing points along a 5,500-mile border. Local US business groups believe lifting the travel ban will ease some of the financial burden the pandemic has imposed.

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The US has allowed Canadian tourists to enter the country by air as long as they have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken three days before travel. Canadians are not allowed to cross the land border for non-essential purposes. canadian data from 2019Before the pandemic, nearly three-quarters of Canadian trips to the US, or 32 million trips, were by car.

Ms. Pierce, who works in the agri-food industry, has traveled to the United States by plane for business. “I found it difficult to pack a side table or nightstand in a carry-on suitcase,” she said, adding to a list of other items — like cosmetics and clothing — she hopes to take while in the States. .

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Most of the Canadian population lives within driving distance of the US border crossing. According to the most recent census data from Statistics Canada, about two-thirds of the country’s 38 million residents live within 60 miles of the land border.

Covid-19 regulations have fueled frustration and heartbreak among Canadians with family, friends and property on the other side of the border – notably by Canada in early August to vaccinate US tourists on its land borders. after opening. America did not retaliate.

Devon Weber moved to Montreal with her son and Canadian husband in February last year, assuming the drive to visit their family in New York City would be common. Earlier both the countries closed their land borders for tourists in March 2020.

Ms Weber, a US citizen, only drove once last June, visiting her brother with her baby, whom she hadn’t seen in 16 months. Her husband stopped because of border restrictions. Connecting with them by air was not an option, due to uneasiness about potentially contracting Covid-19 at the airport or on the plane, she said.

“Eight hours of driving alone with a child is a lot,” she said. Now, she is relieved that her husband will be able to accompany the family for the New York drive for Thanksgiving and Christmas. “It’s a huge load off my shoulders,” she said.

The US Travel Association, a lobbying organization, estimates that closed land crossings at the Canadian and Mexican borders cost the US tourism sector about $700 million per month. Roger Dow, chief executive of the association, said, “Reopening international travel to the United States for fully vaccinated individuals is overdue and will provide a blow to the American economy, travel businesses large and small, and across the US.” “

Gary Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses in northern New York state, said the easing of restrictions would help relieve some of the emotional and financial tension among members.

“We can’t replace the two lost summers or the long impact on families and business, but if it goes as indicated, we can share Christmas and welcome our Canadian travelers,” he said. .

Under current Canadian government regulations, Canadian travelers will still be required to show proof of a negative molecular COVID-19 test upon return to Canada.

The Biden administration has not yet given a specific date for when the land crossing could begin. US officials said Tuesday that the rule change will go into effect in early November, and is meant to coincide with new policies related to air travel. Last month, the White House said it would ease a series of COVID-19 travel restrictions while requiring foreign nationals, including Canadians and Mexicans, to be fully vaccinated to fly into the country. At that time, the authorities did not provide any guidance on the land boundary.

Canada’s minister in charge of border security, Bill Blair, said he welcomed the US easing of land border restrictions and pledged to work with Washington to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the continent.

Gina Larson, who lives in Kenora in northwestern Ontario, said she plans to drive across the border to see her American husband, Kirk Larson, when the land they share in Minnesota after the border reopens. We do. He’s visited her in Canada since the fall of 2019, she said, but she hasn’t been to her Minnesota home.

“It would be nice to get down there as soon as it opens,” she said, adding that she hopes to spend Thanksgiving in Minnesota. “It’s too bad it took so long to do.”

Natalie Ward, a US citizen living in Ottawa, said she won’t face a dilemma over Christmas this year – whether to spend December 25 with her husband in the Canadian capital, or with her family in Ogdensburg, NY, almost 60 miles across the St. Lawrence River. Her husband, a Canadian citizen, could not immigrate to the US, and Ms Ward said health reasons prevented her immediate family from traveling.

“It’s a terrible kind of choice to make,” Ms Ward said of the situation.

Martin Firestone, president of travel insurance brokerage Travel Secure Inc. in Toronto, said his office received more than 100 calls and emails on Wednesday, most from Canadian snowbirds planning to drive across the border when the new policy goes into effect.

He said Canadian travelers are still waiting to hear the exact date when the land border will reopen, which vaccines will be accepted, and whether the US will accept those who received mixed vaccine doses, as That many Canadians did.

Biden administration officials said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will issue guidance for foreign nationals who have received two doses of separate COVID-19 vaccines.

write to Paul Vieira at [email protected] and Kim McCrael at [email protected]

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