Canada lifted the ban on Americans crossing the border to visit, shop, or vacation in Canada on Monday. However, the United States continues to place similar restrictions on Canadians as part of a slow return to normality following the COVID-19 travel bans.
U.S. citizens as well as legal residents must have been fully vaccinated within three days to cross one of the most busy and long-standing land borders in the world. Officials from Canada warn that they will not compromise safety to allow for shorter wait times. Travelers also must fill out a detailed application on the arriveCAN app before crossing.
The first day that U.S. citizens could cross into Canada was slow. It took place in tiny Derby Line, Vermont. Long stretches of time passed without cars heading into downtown Stanstead.
Lisa and Jim Docherty, from Buffalo, New York, received COVID-19 testing at a pharmacy. This was their first time visiting their Ridgeway cottage in Ontario since the summer 2019. The couple from South Carolina, Hilton, is originally from Buffalo and has owned the cottage for more than 40 years.
Lisa Doherty stated that she was looking forward to “just mentally making certain everything’s okay.”
She said, “It’s been a part my life since my grandma had cottages since I was 10 years old so it’s kind of like returning to normal.”
The pharmacy clinic charged $140 for same day tests and $125 to deliver results within 24 to 48 hours.
Lisa Docherty stated, “At the point, we will just do whatever it takes to do,” before going in for a nose swab.
Passenger cars waited more than an hour to cross the Rainbow Bridge, which allows them to enter Niagara Falls from Niagara Falls in New York, Ontario. Two other crossings in western New York were also open, the Peace Bridge in Buffalo or the Lewiston–Queenston Bridge.
To slow the spread, the U.S.-Canada border was closed to all but essential travel from March 2020.
The U.S. stated that it would extend its closure to Canadians who make no-necessary trips to at least Aug. 21. This also applies to Mexican border. The Biden administration has begun to plan for a gradual reopening. The most important requirement is that all foreign visitors to the U.S. must be vaccinated against coronavirus.
Canadians don’t wait for reciprocal rules.
Garnet Health, a company based in Essex, Vermont that provides COVID-19 same-day testing, has seen its test results more than triple over the past few weeks. This increase is due to Canada’s decision last month not to require a quarantine period of two weeks for citizens returning from the U.S.
Chelsea Sweeney (director of business development), said that “I can imagine once that border opens we will see lots of people.”
Joel Villanueva is the owner of Primo’s Mexican Grill, White Rock, British Columbia. It’s located about 2.5 miles (4 km) north of the U.S. Border. He’s more than happy for Americans to come back.
He said, “Let’s get it moving.” “A lot our customers are from the United States and we are only minutes away from the border. We are open to American customers and rely on their foot traffic.
Villanueva stated that he is open to people who have been fully vaccinated, but he doesn’t believe there will be an initial rush of Americans. He said that if his restaurant, along with dozens of others, could be filled with U.S. tourists every day during the rest of the summer it would be a huge financial boost.
Blaine Chamber of Commerce board member Carroll Solomon, who lives near the Washington border, called the reopening of the doors a positive step for businesses. She also stated that it was concerning due to an increase in COVID-19-related cases across the country as the highly contagious delta virus spreads.
Solomon, who volunteers at the Blaine Visitor Information Center, said, “It’s wonderful for people who have to go up there (to Canada), it’s wonderful.”
She doesn’t believe that many people will travel to Canada for more than a few days because of all the hurdles they have to go through — getting fully vaccinated and being tested for COVID-19.
Solomon stated, “I have many friends on the Canadian side and would like to go to lunch with someone. But you can’t just do that. You have to plan days ahead to ensure you get through.”
Steve Blake, who lives in Stanstead in Quebec, is hopeful that his siblings who live in the United States can visit Canada soon to hold a memorial service in memory of their mother, who died in 2020. He doesn’t know when it will happen, given the requirements.
He said, “I would like it to happen sooner than later.”