The US – Canada Border remained firmly closed to non essential travel for 19 months. It closed back in March 2020 originally in a move predicted to last for just one month. Fast forward to November 8th, and the land border finally opened. Nobody could have predicted the 19 months closure and it had a devastating affect on bi national families split up by the pandemic.
There were exceptions to the rule. Canadian travellers were allowed to enter the USA by air (although this traffic was one way as US nationals were prevented from entering Canada) but for the thousands of people living either side of the border, flying was not an option.
Devon Weber founder of an Advocacy group Let Us Reunite representing people who live wither side of the border , explained the problem, “it’s a very classist thing to say: ‘You can just fly to see your family “ adding “What was a 20 minute trip is now 12 hours and three airports.”
The closure of the border has led to sorrow and frustration. Many people have out on family occasions, births, deaths and it has ripped families apart over this period.
In addition the closure of the border has had an adverse effect upon the economy. On a typical day 400, 000 people cross the border, leading to around $ 2 billion spent on goods and services.
Most people in Canada live within 100 miles of the border and think nothing of popping over the border for a day out, a date or even a meal out. All businesses have suffered, from the Shopping malls in New York State to holiday spots in the Northern Ontario lakes.
For governments, the risk of infection was the main concern. Despite the human and economic cost of closing the border, Raywatt Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and professor at the University of Ottawa said, “Frankly, it was always right to limit border crossing in general during the worst of the pandemic. I wish both sides had done that more rigorously.”
There are still COVID restrictions in place at the border on the Canadian side. Everyone has to show proof of vaccination and you will need to provide pre entry test results. You may also need to take a swab test at the border.
Canadian citizens who are fully vaccinated and who re enter Canada within 72 hours of leaving the country do not have to provide a pre entry test.
The US Customs and Border Patrol will be carrying out random spot checks on some travellers but have chosen not to check travellers’ vaccine passports as standard practice. Unlike air travellers, providing the proof of a negative COVID test is not a requirement for entry into the USA.
As the COVID pandemic continues, with no sign of really abating, it is important to keep an eye on the regulations for cross border travel. We can’t imagine that anyone wants to close down the border again but there are no guarantees that prevent it from happening again.