The government has announced it will reopen the border in phases. The first goes into effect July 5, allowing fully vaccinated Canadians returning home to skip some previous quarantine requirements and avoid the otherwise mandatory test on day eight in the country. Those travelers must file their travel and vaccination history at the website and app ArriveCAN. Vaccinated travelers who qualify must still submit a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours before departure and submit to another test on arrival.
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The government is expected to announce an update to its current policy before July 21.
“We recognize people are anxiously awaiting the reopening of the border,” said Bill Blair, Canada’s minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, at a news conference last week, noting that the aim is to reopen the border “in the coming months.”
In addition to Canadians, permanent residents and people registered under Canada’s Indian Act, some foreign nationals are permitted to enter Canada, including an immediate or extended family member who is staying in Canada for 15 days or more. This covers the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
Discretionary travel, including tourism, remains prohibited. Before the pandemic, Americans accounted for about 15 million of the 22.1 million overnight international visitors to Canada, spending an estimated 11.1 billion Canadian dollars of the 23 billion dollars for all international visitors in 2019. Most Americans traveled by land; about 4.8 million arrived via air.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics in the United States, some 10.5 million people crossed the border by personal vehicle at Buffalo Niagara Falls, the busiest land crossing with Canada, in 2019 compared to 1.7 million in 2020.
For border towns like Buffalo and Detroit, and their Canadian counterparts, the restrictions have separated families and friends and devastated local economies. Sandy Pearce, 61, an American living in Fort Erie, Ontario, just across the Niagara River from Buffalo, has been holding peaceful protests every Sunday afternoon at the Peace Bridge, which connects the two countries.