by Joseph Gresser
In what will come as a huge relief to separated families and a sign of a waning pandemic to others, the Canadian government announced Monday it will allow some non-essential land traffic across the border with the U.S. beginning August 9.
While some traffic may be flowing north, the U.S. government has yet to say when it will allow traffic headed the other way.
In a statement issued shortly after the Canadian government’s announcement, Governor Phil Scott welcomed the relaxation of restrictions Vermont’s northern neighbor said it would put in place and urged Washington quickly to follow its lead.
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy put out a similar statement in which he said Vermont’s congressional delegation asked for increased cross-border traffic in June. Senator Leahy said he, Senator Bernie Sanders, and U.S. Representative Peter Welch will continue to press “for a safe reopening of the Northern Border until that is accomplished.”
As a measure to stem the spread of COVID-19 the U.S.-Canadian land border was closed to all but essential traffic in mid-March last year. The restrictions put in place then have remained for the past 16 months.
The changes announced by Canadian authorities apply to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before making the crossing.
According to a release issued by the Canadian government, the border opening is the first stage in its plan to allow vaccinated travelers from other countries to travel to Canada starting September 7. That day is contingent on Canadians meeting vaccination targets and the general health situation in the country.
The press release says opening the border to U.S. citizens is, in part, a way of recognizing the close ties between the two nations.
According to the release cross-border travel won’t be as easy as it was before COVID. For instance those who wish to go to Canada must plan ahead at least 72 hours and notify the Canadian authorities by using the ArriveCan smartphone app.
In addition all those headed north, even if fully vaccinated, must produce the proof of a recent negative COVID test. Starting August 9 most visitors to Canada who have been vaccinated won’t get tested after crossing the border.
Canadian authorities will give molecular COVID tests to randomly selected travelers in order to keep an eye out for possible cases of the more contagious delta-variety of the coronavirus.
The ArriveCan app requires those who wish to travel to Canada to show, should they test positive for the virus, they will be able to find and afford a place to quarantine for 14 days and to get provisions to see them through those two weeks.