At Long Last, the U.S.-Canadian border is porous again. Starting on November 8, not only will Americans be allowed to go north for leisure vacation—as they have since August 9—but Canadians will be free to enter the United States for the same. The Mexican border will move to the same mostly open status.
Washington's proximity to the Canadian border has given us a front row seat to the trials of interconnected communities disrupted by the pandemic. It 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. Protests stressed the need for a reopened border for a community used to hopping into Canada for services, and Governor Jay Inslee directed $100,000 in state funds to keep Point Roberts’ grocery store open.
Canada 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 impacted businesses and families on both sides. For more than a year, we were not allowed to bounce from the Land of the Free to the Land of Free Health Care.
The opening came in stages, with Canada the first to open back to nonessential travel. In late summer American tourists were allowed back in, albeit with proof of vaccination and a recent, negative Covid test. The Canadians developed a special app called ArriveCAN for those passing through. But the U.S. didn't allow recreational land travel from Canadians until now, with vaccinations required at both the Canadian and Mexican borders.
Hours are still limited at some border facilities, though the Peace Arch crossing—the third busiest along our northern border—is open 24 hours. Welcome back to our Costcos, Canadian friends.
On November 8, air travel requirements to the U.S. will also be updated to require proof of vaccination status (rather than just a negative Covid test).