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Canada border restrictions

We're invited to a family wedding in September 2021 in a location in Washington state near the Canadian border. We have longtime friends on the Canadian side. Our original plan (before Covid came and the wedding was postponed by more than a year) was to attend the wedding and visit our Canadian friends. We live on the east coast of the USA so this would be a major trip for us, and we're reluctant to do it unless we can combine the Canada portion with the wedding.

Currently the US-Canada border is closed to nonessential travel until at least May 21. I know there is no way of telling what the situation will be by September, but just wanted to toss this out for discussion.

https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/local/2021/04/21/us-canada-border-travel-restrictions-extended-through-may-21-2021/

Posted by
6854 posts

Well there's not much to discuss. The annual Montreal jazz fest which generates a lot of money draws 2 million people every year more or less was just moved from July to September.
You. have to book everything refundable and wait and see.

Posted by
218 posts

As of yesterday travel between regions of BC has been restricted to essential travel only this means that we cannot, for example, take the ferry from Vancouver Island to the Mainland unless for a very specific purpose. Same applies to travel between Provinces. The border between the US and Canada has been closed since March 2020 and remains so if you are planning on driving, or traveling by ferry. We have just been hit by the Indian variant and all flights from India have been cancelled until further notice. It’s highly likely the Border will remain closed for months to come. People who have arrived from the States and elsewhere have been required to quarantine at specified hotels at their own cost. When will this end, who knows? We did hear that Washington State Ferries hope to begin the run between Anacortes WA and Sidney BC (for Victoria) late summer/early fall but we are not holding our breaths, but obviously won’t happen if the border is closed. In the meantime we continue to wear our masks 😷, wash our hands 🙌, and keep to the 3 metre distance 📏 recommendation.

Posted by
2981 posts

The government has been pretty clear that they won't open to nonessential travel until the majority of Canadians are vaccinated. Highly unlikely before September. Only slightly more likely in September. But who knows? They may open to those with proof of full vaccination. Or not.

Posted by
3789 posts

@lanlubber, you mean the B1617 variant? Just doing my part to reduce stigma due to a virus that could have mutated and developed anywhere.
Back to regularly scheduled programming, September is iffy for land travel between US and Canada, or flights not requiring quarantine. But one can hope, with plans that can be cancelled.

Posted by
5078 posts

The list of countries’ vaccination rates I saw a couple of days ago indicated that, surprisingly, Canada was far lower than many other countries at the moment. Hopefully the pace will be picking up soon, and more Canadians will be vaccinated, for their sake and everybody else’s.

Is the wedding definitely going on now? Any restrictions or special precautions planned?

Posted by
7607 posts

I suspect the only thing likely to be freely crossing the Washington/BC border this summer will be the smoke from forest fires.

Posted by
2774 posts

In answer to Cyn: I'm pretty sure the wedding will take place on the September date. Most guests live locally in Washington, and almost all non-local family members live up and down the Pacific coast of the USA (none in Canada). The level of COVID caution differs among family members, with the bride and groom both in the category of "we know we had it in spring 2020 so we believe we're immune now" as well as being early vaccine recipients.

Posted by
377 posts

The government has been pretty clear that they won't open to nonessential travel until the majority of Canadians are vaccinated. Highly unlikely before September. Only slightly more likely in September. But who knows?

My Canadian friends reported vaccine shortage. They took their first dose in March, and were scheduled for the second dose a couple of weeks later. Then the second dose appointments were cancelled at the last minute, and were rescheduled to July.

Perhaps the US surplus may help:

https://globalnews.ca/news/7777450/biden-covid-vaccine-canada-help/

Posted by
288 posts

I would love to be wrong, but my best guess, is that the border will not be open in September. At this moment, Canada seems to be moving towards more restrictions, not less, with the provinces strongly discouraging travel between them, and some insisting on quarantine if you come in from another province. I can't see this changing all that quickly.

Posted by
3899 posts

Honestly, at the start, we were keeping the USA out - now I think it's gonna go the other way - they aren't going to want to let US down there - our roll out is horribly slow. My mom got her first last week and isn't getting the second until - I think it's August, because I'm sure she said the day before my birthday.

For me (47) I don't think they are making the jab available until late May or early June...so if I didn't get mine until June, it could be late Sept before I got #2.

Posted by
1258 posts

Nicole, I guess things are different in your province. I became eligible for Astra Zeneca on the 14th, and got my first jab on the 23rd. I thought about waiting until I was eligible for Pfizer or Moderna, but there seemed to be no assurance that would be anytime soon, especially for my postal code. My 2nd jab is in July. (I am 51).

Posted by
1445 posts

Different again here in BC.
Our jabs are all being done by age groups, unless you are a frontline or essential worker.
We are both 66, and only got our computer invite to book ours two weeks ago.
We had our Pfizer shots two days ago, but will not be offered the second doses for another 16 weeks.
Canada overall is not doing well in terms of rising infection numbers, and we do not make any vaccines at all here; they are all imported.

Posted by
31303 posts

epltd,

As you note, there's no way of knowing what the situation is going to be like in September. However, given some recent bits of news, I'm starting to feel a bit optimistic that restrictions will be loosened before the fall.

The rate of vaccinations seems to be accelerating in B.C., subject to vaccine availability of course. The J&J vaccine should be arriving this week, and we're also expecting about 2 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna by next week. As the Premier noted today, there doesn't seem to be much vaccine hesitancy here in B.C. For example, the province established three pop-up clinics today to administer the Astra Zeneca vaccine in high infection areas in Surrey, and within a short time there were queues extending for blocks. I don't know if they were able to get to everyone in the queue? Vaccinations here are now open to anyone over 18, so if we can keep the supplies coming, it may be possible to get enough people vaccinated to start relaxing the restrictions.

Our provincial medical health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said recently that she expects that we'll be in a better place by July. We'll see if that proves to be true.

Of course you could visit your friends anytime, but you'd have to be prepared to jump through the hoops with a negative PCR test and expensive hotel quarantine.

Posted by
2774 posts

Thanks, Ken, for the more optimistic news of BC vaccinations.

The more I think about it the more I realize that our decision whether to make this trip involves not just what's allowed, but what's safe for us.

My husband is in a very high-risk category, so with the current rate of infections in the USA even going to an airport would make me apprehensive right now. By September the USA situation may be significantly better, but if Canada is still calling for pre-entry Covid testing and quarantine upon arrival, that would be a signal that it's not safe for us to travel to Washington, let alone cross the Canadian border.

We'd love to be able to go to the wedding, but it would not be worth the risk of one of us contracting Covid. We may have to settle for watching videos after the fact.

Posted by
7607 posts

My husband is in a very high-risk category,

Given that anyone/everyone 16 and older is now eligible for the shot, won't you have been vaccinated by then?

By September the USA situation may be significantly better, but if Canada is still calling for pre-entry Covid testing and quarantine upon arrival, that would be a signal that it's not safe for us to travel to Washington,

Not sure I follow how Canadian rules signal what is safe for US domestic travel.

Do what you decide is best for you. Good luck

Posted by
2774 posts

To answer the question, we're both fully vaccinated. But vaccination is not a guarantee. It greatly reduces your risk of severe illness or hospitalization (or death) but not 100%. People (a few) who are fully vaccinated are getting sick with Covid, and the vaccines may be less effective against new variants in the future.

To me, if a country like Canada (a "first-world" country with a good healthcare system and a well-educated populace) bans cross-border travel with the USA, that's a signal that travel is not safe for people like us.

And, what do people do at weddings? They hug and kiss, eat and drink, dance etc. So in my mind a wedding is more risky than, say, going to a movie or attending a classical music concert where everyone wears a mask the entire time. And right now, even being fully vaccinated, I would not choose to do either of those things.

Posted by
1907 posts

Tom, we have a Prime Minister with little business sense and entertains himself by sliding down rainbows and sniffing unicorn farts. Meanwhile some of the provincial leaders are taking action. I don't know many details yet but Manitoba and North Dakota have come to an agreement where some Canadian long haul drivers can cross into ND to get vaccinated. There is talk of allowing other Manitobans to do the same.

Posted by
2981 posts

Tom, may I just say that not all share the same opinion of our PM as Alan. But I would expect that from an Albertan. Our infection rate is still extremely high in many places and our vaccine rollout is still slower than we like. It is still unlikely that the majority of our population will be fully vaccinated until fall. Until then we remain vulnerable to infection, and especially new variants that could be introduced by visitors.

We are more fortunate than some poor countries who are so desperate for money that they are allowing foreign tourists even though their own people remain vulnerable.

Posted by
2981 posts

Yes, that is the hope. The increased supply of Pfizer is of course good news. Especially since Moderna has cut back the amount it can supply due apparently to production problems, and AZ doses from India will be severely cut due to their own pandemic crisis. We will begin using the J&J vaccine next week, but I don't know how large or reliable their shipments will be. First doses by the end of June is fine. But full immunization with both doses won't happen til the end of summer/ early fall unless there's a miracle.

Posted by
31303 posts

"We will begin using the J&J vaccine next week, but I don't know how large or reliable their shipments will be."

That might not be happening.....

https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/health-canada-holding-j-j-covid-19-vaccines-over-possible-quality-control-issue-1.5409817

It appears that some people have been freely travelling across the border in B.C., without the hotel quarantine, and it's all perfectly legal.....

https://globalnews.ca/news/7823188/bc-us-canada-border-crossing-loophole/

According to the news today, one of the U.S. limo firms made two back-to-back trips from the border to Kelowna recently, so a lot of people seem to be doing this (returning snowbirds?). I believe this is happening in Ontario as well. However there's still the requirement for negative Covid tests.

Posted by
12545 posts

We are more fortunate than some poor countries who are so desperate
for money that they are allowing foreign tourists even though their
own people remain vulnerable.

Reality is truth. Except I would phrase it "We are more fortunate than people in some poor countries who are so desperate for money that they are welcoming foreign tourists even though at a possible greater risk." Cause governments don't starve, people starve.

To draw your own informed conclusions on the practice of letting vaccinated and PCR passing tourists in, and the risk to the vulnerable, I would suggest you look at the infection rates in the countries that have been open since the first of the year. I just google COVID Numbers and the NYT graph for every nation pops up on the google page. Funny, its behind a pay wall if you go to the NYT site, but no pay wall on the google page.

We let New Yorkers into Texas, and our numbers are still dropping.....

Posted by
2981 posts

Newest update today - the quarantine restrictions will be lifted for returning Canadians who are fully vaccinated effective July 5. Pre arrival and arrival covid tests remain a requirement. Current border closures remain in effect til July 21. But things are starting to look like a gradual reopening for vaccinated travel this summer is a possibility.

What a difference 2 months make, since this thread started. I'm so happy that the vaccination program accelerated as fast as it has. Originally our 2nd shot booking was in late August. Today we were able to rebook for the first week of July.

Hopefully the Delta variant (or a new one) won't throw a wrench into the works.

Posted by
2774 posts

It's great to know that Canadians are getting access to vaccinations sooner than initially expected. Let's hope that favorable trend will continue. The larger percentage of the population that's vaccinated, the less chance the virus has to spread or to mutate into variants.

Posted by
1 posts

No one knows what's going to happen to any borders. It's such a shame that this pandemic is not over. I'm so sick of it and I'm sure that everyone feels the same about it. I've wanted to visit Niagara Falls this winter and book a tour with https://www.viator.com/en-CA/tours/Toronto/Niagara-Falls-Small-Group-Day-Tour/d623-39437P1, but I don't know if this is still going to happen. I can book everything now, from plane tickets to hotels and one week before leaving, everything shuts down and I'm losing money. I'm sure that this pandemic is going to be over at some point and that our lives will be back to normal