U.S. border remains closed to Canadian tourists

Shelby Thevenot
Published: July 21, 2021

The U.S. has extended its travel restrictions on Canadians crossing the border by land and ferry.

The U.S. government released a notice on its registrar extending existing measures starting at midnight on July 22, and remaining in effect until August 21 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. It comes just days after Canada announced it would be reopening the border to fully vaccinated U.S. tourists starting August 9.

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"Given the outbreak and continued transmission and spread of COVID-19 within the United States and globally, the Secretary has determined that the risk of continued transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID-19 between the United States and Canada poses an ongoing 'specific threat to human life or national interests,'” the U.S. government wrote.

The notice currently does not apply to those travelling by air, cargo rail, or sea between Canada and the U.S. It does apply to passenger rail, passenger ferry travel, and pleasure boat travel between the two countries. Only "essential travel" will be allowed to come by these modes of transportation.

The U.S. defines "essential travellers" as those who are:

  • U.S. citizens and permanent residents returning home;
  • travelling for medical purposes;
  • attending educational institutions;
  • travelling to work;
  • travelling for emergency response;
  • engaging in lawful cross-border trade, such as truck drivers;
  • engaging in official government or diplomatic travel;
  • U.S. armed forces members and their spouses and children; and
  • travelling for military-related operations.

Travelling for tourism, sightseeing, recreation, or cultural events is considered non-essential.

The news comes as cases in the U.S. are rising from a slump in June. The delta variant is making up 83 per cent of new cases in the U.S., CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said at a Senate hearing. In Canada, new daily cases are down to August 2020 levels. A total of 396 new cases were reported in Canada on July 20.

The border between Canada and the U.S. has been closed since March 2020, shortly after the World Health Organization deemed the coronavirus to be a global pandemic.

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