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Can Americans travel to Canada during the pandemic?

can Americans travel to Canada
Photo via Radek Kucharski/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • Travel restrictions are still in place in Canada
  • Only certain U.S. visitors are allowed over the border
  • Canada is cracking down on illegal visitors to the country

Coronavirus restrictions are beginning to lift around the world. Travel has started to reignite, but not everyone is welcome to travel internationally. As the U.S. COVID-19 numbers remain the highest in the world, many countries are limiting incoming travel from the coronavirus hotspot. But what about its neighbor to the north? Can Americans travel to Canada during the pandemic?

The Canadian government’s website lists everyone who can travel to and enter the country until further notice. On the list are Canadian citizens, dual Canadian citizens with valid paperwork, permanent residents of Canada, protected people, and people registered under Canada’s Indian Act. Foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, will only be granted entry “if they’re eligible.”

To be eligible to travel to Canada, Americans must either be an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or be traveling for an essential purpose. All travelers into Canada must quarantine for 14 days. If travelers break quarantine, they could face a fine of up to $750,000 and six months of jail time. If someone were to present “a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while willfully or recklessly contravening this act or the regulations,” however, the fine could reach $1 million with up to three years of jail time.

There are slightly looser restrictions around foreign nationals not entering from the U.S. The ban on non-essential travel from the U.S. to Canada has been extended until at least Oct. 21, though it seems likely that the ban will last longer than that. Many of Canada’s provinces also require face coverings, so travelers who meet the requirements should keep this in mind. 

Canada put out a travel advisory, urging citizens to avoid travel around and outside of Canada, and to stay away from cruise ships completely. The page also recommends that Canadians avoid travel to the United States for the foreseeable future. If not, the government said, “Be aware that commercial airspace closures and movement restrictions can occur without warning and could prevent your return to Canada.”

Canada’s border rules prompted CNN to write, “Pandemic travel restrictions have made Americans prisoners of their country.”

Americans, who also have made Ireland nervous, that don’t comply with Canada’s restrictions are liable to get in trouble. Candian citizens, concerned about the health risk Americans may present, have been reporting illegal tourists to the authorities. Stubborn American tourists have forced the country to take several precautionary measures to identify legal tourists, including displaying tags in rearview mirrors with a mandatory departure date clearly identified.

As of this writing, Canada has suffered more than 136,000 coronavirus infections and 9,200 deaths. The United States, on the other hand, is nearing 6.4 million cases and has surpassed 190,000 deaths. 

For now, it seems that the closest Canadians want Americans to get to their country is probably on the boat tours at Niagara Falls

Read more on traveling during the pandemic:

Sources: The Points Guy, Canada.ca, New York Times, Travel


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