COVID-19 Keeps Canada-U.S. Border Closed As Second Wave Hits

Canada is likely to keep its border with the U.S closed to all but essential travels until the coronavirus pandemic abates, which could happen in several months to come.

“The situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly unfolods and we have declared that our response will adapt in lock step,” a spokesman for Canada’s public safety minister said Tuesday.

“Going forward, we will continue to assess the best public health information available to us to ensure decision on when and how to reopen our border.”

While the Canada-U.S. border remains closed to all but essential travels, immigration to Canada from its neighbor to the south – its biggest trading partner – is currently taking a heavy hit.

Last year, 10,780 Americans opted to make Canada their permanent residence, with roughly fifty percent, 5,095 coming in the first half of 2019.

In the first six months of this year, that rate of new arrivals from the U.S dropped by twenty-four (24) percent, to 3,870.

During the peak of the lockdowns of the first wave of the pandemic in Canada, in April and May, in particular, only 695 Americans became new permanent residents, about a third of the number for the comparable months last year.

Now, it appears the Canada-U.S. border may remain closed for much longer than originally expected.

Last week, Blair reportedly suggested the Canada-U.S. border could stay close to all but essential travel for several more months. It is currently closed until October 21.

The border is closed for non-essential travels. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have offered guidance and instructions on what constitutes essential and non-essential travel.

Reasons considered ‘non-essential’ include:

  • To visit a family member for a vacation.
  • For the birth of a grandchild, niece, nephew, cousin, etc. (For the parent of a child, this may be viewed as non-discretionary travel; but, it will still require some assessment.)
  • To spend time at a secondary residence (vacation home, fishing lodge, or hunting, etc.). This includes entry for maintenance purposes.
  • To attend the funeral of a loved one (This purpose of travel would be unlikely due to quarantine limits to the number of attendees at funerals under provincial restriction.)

What is considered ‘essential’ include travel for:

  • Economic services and supply chain.
  • Critical infrastructure support.
  • Health, safety, and security.
  • Supporting local communities.
  • Transiting through Canada for non-discretionary or non-optional purposes.
  • Studying in Canada if already granted a study permit on or before March 18.
  • Tending to family matters for non-discretionary or non-optional purposes (such as bringing supplies to the aged or tending to sick family members) when there is no one else available to assist in Canada.
  • Any other activities that are considered non-discretionary or non-optional by the Government of Canada or based on an officer’s assessment.

14-Day Self-Quarantine Plan

Regardless of the reason for travel or exemption, any traveler with coronavirus symptoms will be denied entry into Canada.

Furthermore, anyone entering Canada from the United States or any other country will be required to self-quarantine for a period of fourteen (14) days upon entry.

Travelers are also required to present a viable quarantine plan, with details of where they will stay, how they will acquire or purchase groceries and medications, and whether they will be staying with vulnerable or aged people.