Update 7/19/21: On Monday, the CBC reported that the Canadian federal government will open the border on August 9 to fully vaccinated U.S. travelers—without mandatory quarantine. However, proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test is currently still required as well. Entrance for visitors from other countries will begin September 7. Children under 12, who are not yet eligible for the shot, won't be forced to undergo a two-week isolation (but it is recommended they avoid group settings).
It's a joint Canada Day-Fourth of July miracle: Canada has begun to relax the strict border controls that have restricted travel since the pandemic began. Poutine for everyone! Unfortunately, it doesn't mean we are allowed to bounce from the Land of the Free to the Land of Free Healthcare just yet.
Recreational travel from the States to Canada remains prohibited through at least July 21, though the end may finally be in sight. This week's change was actually announced June 21: Vaccinated Canadians living in the U.S. who hope to return home no longer face a mandatory 14-day quarantine. But hold on to your hockey sticks—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested yesterday that full reopening plans are imminent.
Trudeau's vague announcement leaves plenty of room for ambiguity: "We're very hopeful that we're going to see new steps on reopening announced in the coming weeks," he told reporters Monday. Last month Canadian officials said that tourism won't be allowed until Canada reaches a 75 percent vaccination rate, more than twice the 35.2 percent that are currently fully vaxxed. However, due to their first-shots-first rollout, nearly 69 percent of Canadians have their first dose. (In the U.S., we're at just over half of us with a first jab.)
The closed Canadian border has meant major headaches for families split between the two countries, and for the strange enclave of Point Roberts, a bit of Washington state just south of Vancouver that's cut off from the rest of the United States. A protest over the weekend stressed the need for a reopened border for a community used to hopping into Canada for services. Governor Jay Inslee recently directed $100,000 in state funds to keep Point Roberts' grocery store open.
Canada has kept strict prohibitions on travel throughout the pandemic, including between provinces, and American visitors were fined if spotted near tourist locations while on a drive from Washington to Alaska. With nearly 15 million visitors from the U.S. to the Great White North annually and more than 20 million going the other way, the locked door has impacted businesses and families on both sides. But in a summer when Washington and British Columbia have already bonded over too-hot temperatures and a fear of wildfires, the great Pacific Northwest reunion may be only weeks away.