More than 16,500 U.S. citizens and foreign nationals have been turned away at the Canada-U.S. Border since March because they wanted to shop, visit or visit for other non-essential reasons.
Although the Canada Border Services Agency does not provide statistics on Niagara level crossings for safety reasons, more than 15,200 of those turned back were at land, rail and sea crossings.
The rest have been denied entry after arriving at Canadian airports since the introduction of COVID-19 border restrictions on March 21.
CBSA spokeswoman Judith Gadbois St.-Cyr said in an email that travelers must demonstrate to a border services officer that they meet entry requirements and must have documents supporting their reasons for trip and length of stay.
“When assessing admissibility, CBSA border services officers consider all relevant factors before making a decision,” she said.
“Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and are informed by the individual circumstances of each traveler.”
Canada has introduced border restrictions for all discretionary or optional travel to Canada. While Canadian citizens and permanent residents will not be turned down, others must demonstrate that they are eligible for essential travel, such as truckers who transport goods or people who work in a job that supports critical infrastructure.
As of June 8, foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents can also enter Canada, provided they have no symptoms of COVID and be quarantined for 14 days.
The CBSA said there were no exemptions from border restrictions for compassionate reasons, such as visiting a critically ill loved one or attending a funeral.
Yet 13,463 U.S. citizens attempted to cross by land, rail, and sea between March 22 and April 19. Another 1,810 people turned back at the border were foreign nationals.
Among US citizens, more than 4,000 have told border service officers they want to cross for sightseeing and sightseeing. Another 1,700 said they came for recreation, while more than 740 wanted to shop.
More than 6,900 provided other reasons for crossing that officers considered discretionary.
Land border crossings have decreased significantly since the restrictions were put in place.
CBSA figures show a total of 185,377 people crossed by land in Canada between August 10 and August 16, a drop of 88% from the same period last year.
All people entering the country are required to self-isolate for 14 days if they exhibit symptoms or have confirmed cases of COVID-19. Even if they don’t show any symptoms, they should be quarantined for 14 days.
Traveler surveillance is a coordinated effort between the Canada Border Services Agency, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the RCMP.
Since the mandatory segregation order, the Public Health Agency of Canada has said it has referred 76,700 priority cases to law enforcement through the RCMP National Operational Center.
Niagara Regional Police have carried out approximately 300 quarantine checks to ensure that people who have recently arrived in Canada are following appropriate isolation protocols for COVID-19.
PNR spokeswoman Jesse Vujasic said that in Ontario, the OPP is the liaison officer who determines a person’s whereabouts and then contacts the PNR to verify if they are in Niagara.
“Our officers then make a home visit to visually inspect whether the person is home, healthy and complying with orders,” she said in an email.
No charges have been laid in Niagara.
Across the country between March 25 and August 26, there were only 38 tickets and one subpoena issued under the Quarantine Act for violations that were reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada.