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Early last week, it was announced that US land borders will reopen for Canadian travellers for the first time since March 2020.
While non-essential travel is still strongly discouraged by the Canadian Public Health Agency, the border reopening will allow Canadians to drive into the US regardless of their travel purpose starting Nov. 8. There are still, however, strict travel requirements in place to ensure safety and minimize the potential spread of COVID-19.
Canada lifted its border restrictions on Aug. 9. Since then, fully vaccinated US residents have been able to cross the Canadian land border for non-essential purposes if they are able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before their arrival. Travellers are also required to confirm they are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination through the ArriveCAN app in order to cross.
Canada currently accepts any combination of Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca vaccines. If travellers meet all of these requirements, they are not required to quarantine but are encouraged to have a backup plan in case there are any changes in their health condition. While children under 12 are exempt from the vaccination requirement, they are not allowed in group settings for the first 14 days after arrival.
Beginning Nov. 8, Canadians will also be able to cross the land borders with similar requirements. An official checklist has not yet been released, but it is likely that Canadians will not have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test so long as they are fully vaccinated. It is also expected that the US will accept mixed doses of any of the approved vaccines mentioned above. In order to return home however, Canadians will still be required to present a negative COVID-19 test, with the exception of those returning within 72 hours, who are allowed to conduct their test before leaving the country.
“I think this is really great news,” said Lauren Zonneveld, fifth-year accounting student. “My grandparents are [especially] excited to go back to Florida after almost two years braving [the cold weather] in Ontario.”
Officials have expressed concern over the potentially costly requirement for Canadians to obtain a negative test before re-entering the country even once they have been fully vaccinated. Considering the high volume of testing being conducted in the US, many people have had to wait weeks for an appointment and some clinics have stopped offering tests for travel purposes altogether.
It is expected that this requirement will result in a higher number of short-term visits (under 72 hours) which will allow Canadians to return without the hassle of booking a PCR test in the US.
For more information on border reopening and travel requirements, visit the Government of Canada website.