The U.S. is extending COVID-19 restrictions on non-essential travel at its borders for yet another month, meaning Canadians will have to wait a bit longer to drive south for leisure.
Citing the recent spread of COVID-19, heavily driven by the Delta variant, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has confirmed its extending measures at American land and ferry crossings until at least Sept. 21.
The DHS says the U.S. will continue “to ensure the flow of essential trade and travel.”
This comes despite Canada allowing fully vaccinated U.S. travellers into this country as of Aug. 9 without having to quarantine for two weeks. Eligible visitors must live in the U.S. and have allowed at least 14 days to pass since receiving a full course of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine.
U.S. travellers are also required to show proof of a negative molecular test for COVID-19 that’s no more than 72 hours old, and must also use the ArriveCAN app or online portal to upload vaccine details.
Fully vaccinated travellers who have recovered from the disease and are otherwise eligible to enter Canada can show proof of a positive molecular test taken between 14 and 90 days prior to crossing the border.
America’s extension of border measures will undoubtedly come as a blow to many businesses and communities that had been hoping to welcome back Canadian visitors. It is also likely to disappoint families who have been apart for many months because of the pandemic.
The U.S. says it’s working closely with its partners both domestically and internationally on decisions to resume normal travel.
While many people have expressed support for the extension, given the rise in COVID-19 case numbers, the move is already being criticized by others.
The Canadian-American Business Council is among those disappointed by the extension.
Calling the rollover of restrictions on non-essential travel into the U.S. frustrating, Chief Executive Officer Maryscott Greenwood says it’s “beyond time for the U.S. to figure out a way to safely reopen the border to vaccinated Canadians.”
“I hope they won’t keep it for a month, that Customs and Border Patrol in the U.S. and our Department of Homeland Security will find a way to be able to validate vaccines and COVID tests so that Canadians are able to travel to the United States,” she said Friday, speaking from Washington, D.C.
“It’s past due, time to do this, and it’s the smart, scientific, and compassionate thing to do from a policy point of view,” Mr. Greenwood added.
According to the Canadian-American Business Council, the effects of continued restrictions on non-essential travel are “broad and deep.”
Saying the Canada-U.S. relationship from an economic standpoint is worth about $7 billion a year, Mr. Greenwood notes commerce has either ground to a halt or slowed over the past 18 months.
But it’s not just the commercial or economic impacts that she highlights as a concern. She reiterates many families continue to be separated by border closures.
U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins, who has been vocal about the border closure for months, was also quick to react to news of the extension Friday.
“The failure to make opening the U.S. – Canada border the priority that it should be is a huge mistake. It is beyond disappointing; it is hurtful both at a human and economic level,” he wrote on Twitter.
Saying in a statement that the U.S.-Canada relationship is integral for both the economy and quality of life, Mr. Higgins adds “there has not been enough attention placed on the value and opportunity that comes with restoring connections between our two nations.”
Measures at the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2020 in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. While vaccination rates have increased and both countries had seen a decline in cases over the past several months, the number of infections has once again risen as communities struggle to contain the Delta variant.
Much of the increase in cases has also been driven by the unvaccinated.
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