Travelling to the U.S.? The rules are still in flux

Canadian travelers can currently fly – but not drive – to the United States. why over here

US tourists looking to visit Canada received welcome news on Monday when the federal government announced it would soon reopen its doors to fully vaccinated US citizens.

However, some Canadians were eager to cross the US land border, as no reciprocity agreement was announced.

“I’ve been waiting very patiently. We have all been waiting very patiently for this range to open,” said Leslie Beitel of Lethbridge, Alta. She has a second home in Columbia Falls, Mont., about 290 kilometers away, but she can’t drive there because the US land border is closed.

“It would be really cool to have free access to our place,” she said.

Here are the current rules for entering the US, including what is subject to change.

american travel rules

In March 2020, Canada and the United States agreed to close their shared land border to non-essential travel to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The US still decided to allow Canadian tourists to enter by air, while Canada barred American travelers from entering by any means of transportation.

It was widely believed that – when the time was right – the two countries would announce the reopening of the land border.

But this did not happen.

Government of Canada on Monday announced That, come August 9, fully vaccinated Americans can enter Canada and even skip the quarantine. However, the US government had nothing new to announce, except that it was review in progress Its current travel restrictions.

“Every country has to set its own rules on how it will keep its citizens safe,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference in Hamilton on Tuesday.

look | Canada to open border for vaccinated Americans from August 9

a day later, America declared That, except with one amendment, due to the risks posed by the pandemic, the land border will remain closed for non-essential travel until at least 21 August.

However, Canadian Can still freely enter the US by air.

they have to show proof A negative molecular or antigenic COVID-19 test taken no later than three days prior to their flight.

On return to Canada, travelers must show evidence However, the Canadian government has stated that travelers arriving on August 9 can take that test when leaving Canada, and can use it to both enter the US and return home – as long as they are within 72 hours. for less than

Birgit Heinbach lives in Surrey, BC, just seven kilometers from her American husband’s home across the border in Blaine, Wash.

She could walk to her husband’s house in 45 minutes, but since Heinbach cannot travel by land, visiting her husband has become a long, expensive journey.

“I have to fly from Vancouver to Seattle, get around there, take the next plane to Bellingham. So it takes me three quarters of a day,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Why won’t the US reopen its land border now?

Last year, the US made noise Canada publicly opposed the idea when it came to reopening the Canada-US land border.

So why was the US silent on Monday when Canada announced its reopening plans?

Foreign policy expert Edward Alden suggests the US waits until it is ready to reopen its shared land border Mexico, which is also closed for non-essential travel.

“It would be very strange for this administration … to lift sanctions on Canada without simultaneously removing land border restrictions on Mexico,” said Alden, a professor of US-Canada economic relations at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. .

look | Mexico’s ambassador to Canada on land border closure:

Alden suggested that the US is not in a hurry to reopen the border with Mexico because of the anticipated consequences: a flood of asylum seekers that may not return immediately as well as from Republicans opposed to Biden’s immigration policies with response.

“It’s a political concern mostly on Republicans,” he said. “It’s also, I think, just a [border] resource concerns.”

US Department of Homeland Security on Thursday tweeted That it is “in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which sanctions can be safely and permanently eased.”

Vaccine mix concerns

It is unclear at this point whether the US will mandate that Canadian tourists be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when they are allowed to cross over by land. This is not currently a requirement for US-bound air travelers.

If the US imposes a vaccination requirement, it could create problems for it over 2.6 million Canadians Those who have had mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The US does not currently recognize the COVID-19 vaccine mix.

“The safety and effectiveness of receiving two different COVID-19 vaccines have not been studied,” Jasmine Reid, a spokeswoman for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an email.

However, CDC says Mixed doses of two mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, will be accepted in “exceptional situations”, such as when the vaccine used for the first dose was no longer available. That rule does not cover the many Canadians who have received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and mRNA shot.

cruise line questions

Many cruise lines are following CDC directives for their cruises departing from the US where the passenger must be fully vaccinated. Norwegian Cruise Line Not fully recognizing those with mixed doses as vaccinations. princess cruiseshandjob CARNIVAL and Holland America Not recognizing people who have taken mixed doses of AstraZeneca and mRNA vaccine.

“It makes me feel like I am somehow a second-class citizen, having received one dose of AstraZeneca and another dose of Pfizer vaccine,” said epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajrin.

Muhajerin, a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, said studies so far show that mixing vaccine doses safe and effective, so the US can change its policy at any time.

“That has to change, because it’s acceptable that it’s such a narrow type,” he said.

“There are many countries mixing and matching different types of vaccines.”

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