US-Canada border rules relaxed, giving local businesses a boost

As of Tuesday, Canadians who have spent less than 72 hours in another country will no longer need a Covid-19 test to return to Canada, allowing residents near the 5,500-mile border to do quick trips to the United States to choose. shopping for groceries, gasoline or holiday shopping.

US businesses along the Canadian border say they expect cross-border shopping and tourism to increase after nearly 20 months of suffering from Washington’s decision to ban tourists from entering the United States through border crossings terrestrials from the north. Two-thirds of Canada’s 38 million people live within 60 miles of the United States land border, according to census data, and before the pandemic, many had frequently crossed to spend money in the United States. United

Officials in Canada said earlier this month they were confident the requirement would be dropped as data shows 86% of Canadians aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. They are sticking to that plan even as Canada has joined with the United States, the United Kingdom and others in announcing new travel restrictions targeting southern Africa amid concerns over the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The United States does not require a negative Covid-19 test of Canadians entering the country; vehicles lined up to enter the United States in Surrey, British Columbia.


Photo:

Liang Sen / Zuma Press

Americans visiting Canada, however, still have to pass a Covid-19 molecular test – like a polymerase chain reaction test or PCR test – before arriving at the northern border, leaving some business owners in Canada. frustrated that they won’t likely see a commensurate recovery among US customers. The United States does not require negative Covid-19 tests of Canadians entering the country, although those traveling for non-essential purposes must show full proof of vaccination.

Kathryn Ashby, a marketing executive who lives in Toronto, said she started planning a cross-border shopping trip with friends as soon as Canada announced the change. “We were delighted,” said Ashby. “I feel like I’m getting back to normal a bit.

Ms Ashby said the group booked a hotel in Niagara Falls, New York, about an hour’s drive from her home, for two or three days of shopping in malls starting December 26, a holiday that Canadians call Boxing Day and often used to track down sales after Christmas.

Cross the Canada-U.S. Border

In Massena, NY, Steve Nadeau said he plans to hire additional staff starting this week to prepare for a possible increase in the number of Canadian customers at Trombino’s restaurant, which he co-owns with his brother. He said he had heard from Canadians eager to return before, including one who wanted to make sure the restaurant still had winged parties on Mondays.

“We were pretty popular with Canadians before this all started, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to see a big influx of people,” Nadeau said. “I certainly hope so. “

At the Jay Peak Resort in Vermont, less than 5 miles from the Canadian border, about half of the guests come from Canada during a typical pre-pandemic winter. The resort’s communications director, JJ Toland, said when the Canadian government announced plans to change the testing rules, “I think the resort’s collective blood pressure dropped by about 20 points.”

Some Canadian companies have expressed frustration that Americans still need a negative Covid-19 molecular test to enter Canada; a tourist in Niagara Falls, Ontario, in November.


Photo:

geoff robins / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

“To say it was more than welcome is an understatement,” he said.

Although the United States reopened its land border to fully vaccinated Canadians in early November, many business owners said traffic from Canada was limited by PCR tests Canadians were required to show upon return home, which tend to be expensive and are sometimes difficult to obtain. . At $ 150 each, the cost of the tests could drop a family of four to around $ 600.

Teri Treat, co-owner of a 35-room boutique hotel in Lynden, Wash., Less than 20 miles east of Blaine, has lived in northern Washington since the mid-1960s. “Our Economy deeply, deeply depends on Canadians, ”she said. After the United States reopened its land borders to Canadians, the expected increase in visits never materialized, she said, adding that she hopes the relaxed testing requirements can change that.

Some Canadian business groups have expressed dismay that the rules only change for Canadian travelers. Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Perrin Beatty said the move would help retailers and tourism businesses in the United States, but hurt their Canadian counterparts as Americans still have to prove a negative Covid-19 molecular test to visit Canada. Americans and other foreign visitors are also, under Canadian rules, supposed to have a 14-day quarantine plan ready in case a border official says quarantine is needed.

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Mr Beatty said Canada should focus on whether or not travelers are vaccinated, rather than how much time they have spent in another country.

“What the government is doing is creating an incentive for Canadians to take their money out of Canada, and we are putting a barrier in place for Americans who want to come to Canada to shop or visit,” Beatty said.

Canadian officials say they are assessing whether to maintain the molecular testing requirement for U.S. visitors. For now, however, public health officials say the requirement will remain in place as there remain a number of Covid-19 hotspots in the United States, including Michigan, which borders the province of Ontario. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the level of community transmission of Covid-19 in Michigan is high, meaning the percentage of tests positive for the infection has exceeded 10% in the past seven days.

Travelers who met certain conditions were allowed entry into the United States from November 8. Allison Pohle of the WSJ explains what these new rules mean. Photo: Seth Wenig / Associated Press Video of 05/11/21)

Write to Kim Mackrael at [email protected] and Paul Vieira at [email protected]

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