United States and Canada extend border closure
On Thursday, May 20, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a further one-month extension of the border closure between the United States and Canada. This brings the total border closure to 15 months.
The border closure prohibits non-essential travel from the United States to Canada. However, Canadians are still allowed to visit the United States, as long as they are not from a country or region under current United States travel bans. This includes places like India and Brazil.
Canada wants to open up to the United States
According to a CTV News article, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a few days ago that he wanted to see some easing of restrictions once the country has vaccinated 75% of its population.
Reaching 75% will take time. Data from Canada shows that 45.1% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, but only about 4% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that about 49% of the United States have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 39% are fully vaccinated. Among the population over 12 years of age, the minimum age to receive a vaccine in the United States, 57.9% have received at least one dose, while 46% are fully vaccinated.
Canada has taken a rigorous approach to travel. He has worked with airlines to limit flights to major vacation destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
In addition, returning Canadians must adhere to strict travel restrictions. All those arriving in Canada will be required to show proof of a negative test result taken within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time for the flight to Canada. This means connecting passengers must take the test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of their last direct flight to Canada.
Additionally, when travelers arrive in Canada, they must take an additional test and quarantine themselves at an approved hotel for up to three days at their own expense. After that, passengers can quarantine themselves for the remainder of the mandatory 14-day period at home. There are no exemptions for vaccinated travelers.
Canada has also banned high-risk travel. For example, all flights from India and Pakistan to Canada have been extended until at least June 21.
A long wait for a reopening of the border
Currently, Canadian airlines primarily carry connecting passengers. Passengers in transit must adhere to strict restrictions and are not allowed to leave the secure transit area. If, in the event of a flight cancellation or delay, passengers must comply with a mandatory quarantine until their departure flight.
Airlines cannot fully survive on transit passengers alone. Americans have no shortage of options as US carriers are bringing in more flights. The air market between the United States and Canada is essential for airlines like Air Canada and WestJet. Air Canada has positioned itself for a winter reopening of the Canada-US border.
Airlines are planning to bring back frequencies or start new routes to prepare for a return from air travel. Most of these plans depend on the relaxation of travel restrictions. For now, given authorities’ statements, it will likely be the fall, if not later, for the border to reopen for non-essential travel.
Canada may reopen the border sooner to vaccinated travelers. Several countries around the world have reopened their doors to passengers who can provide proof of vaccination. However, Canada has not shown the kind of eagerness that these heavily tourism-dependent countries have to reopen to Americans.
What do you think of the extension of the border closure? Let us know in the comments!