First, the good news, the relief: After nearly 17 long months of disease and worry and lockdowns and restrictions and being justifiably and understandably cautious, Canadian officials announced that fully vaccinated U.S. citizens, as well as Canadians residing in the U.S., can begin crossing the border again and entering Canada on Aug. 9.
Now the not-so-good news: As the News Tribune reported, “Don’t just go driving up to the border on that day and expect to get in.”
There’s a checklist to complete first.
You’ll need to be fully vaccinated for at least 14 days, and you’ll need to be able to prove it with a vaccination card or with a paper or digital copy of your vaccination documentation. The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines are all acceptable to Canadians.
You’ll need to be asymptomatic.
You’ll need to register ahead of time via the “ArriveCan” app or web portal.
You’ll need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular or PCR test (not an antigen test) from within 72 hours of arriving at the border.
Also, don’t forget your passport and enhanced ID, which are needed to cross the border with or without COVID-19 as a factor.
And if you’re 12 or younger and unvaccinated, you’ll need to be accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent or guardian. “They can move around with their parents, but must avoid group settings, such as camps or daycares,” the Canadian government said in updating its guidelines a week ago.
Once in Canada, don’t be surprised or make a stink about it if you’re randomly selected for a COVID-19 test. Mandatory testing has been lifted, but the Canadians are still doing spot checks.
The reopening is possible because, after lagging for months in getting its people vaccinated, Canada now boasts 75% of its eligible population with at least a first dose of protection from a virus that has killed more than 610,000 Americans and more than 26,500 Canadians. In addition, Canada announced that 50% of its eligible population is now fully vaccinated and that infection rates and hospitalization rates are low.
"With rising vaccination rates and fewer cases in Canada, we can begin to safely ease border measures,” Canadian Minister of Health Patty Hajdu said in a statement last week. “A gradual approach to reopening will allow our health authorities to monitor the COVID-19 situation here and abroad. Canadians have worked hard and sacrificed for each other, and because of that work, we can take these next steps safely."
Canada’s reopening border comes as welcome relief to Americans missing their north-of-the-border cabins and favorite fishing holes, businesses eager to resume international money-making ventures, and other travelers from our country.
For them, especially, it’s been a long road back. With the need to continue guarding against infections and outbreaks of deadly COVID-19 — and now its variants, too — the checklist is long, too.