Canada-US Extended Land Border Closure, Testing and Hotel Quarantine

Canada-US Extended Land Border Closure, Testing and Hotel Quarantine

Canada and the United States announced the further extension of their mutual ban on non-essential land-border crossings through 21 May.

These restrictions were first imposed bilaterally back in March 2020 to mitigate transmission of the COVID-19 virus and have been renewed by both nations following review on a monthly basis ever since.

Canada’s COVID-19 measures are now among the strictest in the world but it has not slowed down the COVID-19 variants spreading within the country. Currently, Canada has a higher number of COVID-19 cases per capita than the United States and Mexico.

Cross Border Travel

Travellers bound for Canada by air will continue to have a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival and are required to stay their first three nights at a designated quarantine hotel, which they pay for themselves. If their airport test result comes back negative, travellers are permitted to finish out their 14-day quarantine at home, subject to increased surveillance.

The Canadian government initially implemented these intensified regulations to deter would-be travellers from taking off on spring break trips, but Canada’s health authorities announced that these will also be extended through May 21.

Air travellers had already been required to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of their arrival in Canada, to which the airport testing and hotel quarantine measures were added at the end of February.

Permitted Land Crossing

Returning residents or persons granted exemptions for land crossings are also required to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel in order to enter Canada. Those who arrive without a negative test aren’t sent back to the US but will be fined up to CA $3,000.

The only measure travellers get to skip when arriving by land is the mandatory hotel quarantine.

After 13 months of the U.S.-Canada land border being closed, border communities and local economies that rely on the regular cross-border traffic are suffering, prompting some US lawmakers to call for the easing of restrictions. But, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared last month that he didn’t plan on reopening land borders with the US anytime soon.

Canada has seen a record number of coronavirus infections. Now may not be the best time for the US to consider lifting the land border restrictions.

For this reason, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised Americans to avoid travel to Canada, even if they’re fully vaccinated, as scientific studies suggest that at least one of these variants, P.1 from Brazil, is able to evade the immune response to prior strains of the virus.

If the land borders were to reopen for non-essential travel, it could cause a large number of Canadians crossing the border, looking to get vaccinated in the United States. 

The US has one of the best vaccination rates in the world, and has enough vaccine supply for everyone in the country right now that wants a shot. US CDC data shows that in several states, 30% of available vaccines have gone unused.

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