Creative: Canadian Hockey Teams Dodge US COVID-19 Testing

Creative: Canadian Hockey Teams Dodge US COVID-19 Testing

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Some Canadian hockey teams are creatively avoiding the United States’ COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers, and I can’t blame them, I think.

Canadian sports teams cross border by bus rather than plane

The United States continues to require all inbound international travelers to get tested within one calendar day of landing in the United States. Rapid antigen tests are accepted, and this is required regardless of nationality or vaccination status.

With the Stanley Cup playoffs happening right now, several Canadian hockey teams need to travel to the United States, but they’re not traveling the way you’d expect. You see, the United States only requires COVID-19 testing if you’re arriving in the United States by air, and not if you’re crossing a land border.

So Canadian sports teams are getting creative, and avoiding arriving in the United States by air:

  • The Edmonton Oilers flew from Edmonton to Vancouver, then they took a bus to Washington, and then they flew from there to Los Angeles, to play the Los Angeles Kings
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs took a bus to Buffalo, and then they flew from there to Tampa, to play the Tampa Bay Lighting

This really took a lot of effort, when you think about. The Oilers could have just flown nonstop from Edmonton to Los Angeles in less than four hours, but instead they took two flights and a bus ride, taking their journey way longer. But I suppose the team thinks that effort is worth it to ensure that nobody has to test, and then potentially can’t play.

It’s time for the US travel testing requirement to end

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (not that anyone cares), but it’s time for the US travel testing requirement to end:

  • The Biden administration promised to follow the science, though would anyone like to take a stab at the science behind requiring testing when arriving in the US by air, but not by car? Bueller?
  • The fact that the only context in which the US requires testing is for travel also doesn’t do a whole lot to follow the science, especially as other countries have increasingly lifted these rules; by all means go into a nightclub maskless, but if you’re a vaccinated traveler entering the country, that’s the only time you need to get tested (never mind the fact that a much higher percentage of international travelers are vaccinated than the US population average)
  • Even beyond the lack of effectiveness of the current testing requirement, the bigger issue is simply that the international travel testing industry is a complete money grab, and really shady, as I’ve written about before

Unfortunately as recently as a few weeks ago, the White House indicated that there were no plans to lift this policy.

Bottom line

With several Canadian hockey teams traveling to the United States for Stanley Cup playoffs, they’re doing everything they can to avoid getting tested. The US only requires COVID-19 testing for international travelers arriving by air, and not for those arriving via land borders.

As a result, teams are crossing the border by bus, and then flying. In the case of The Oilers, they even took two flights and a bus ride, in place of a nonstop flight. Yep, all to avoid a rule that doesn’t really make much sense.

What do you make of the Canadian teams’ strategies for avoiding COVID-19 testing?

Conversations (53)
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  1. Alan Gold

    I live in Northern Mexico and have taken advantage of this loophole several times. I take the bus to San Antonio (I could fly out of Laredo as well but it is typically much more expensive). Not only do I avoid the covid test but I save over $100 in the process. Even on an award ticket, the fees are $89 to fly out of Mexico to the US. On my recent flight from San...

    I live in Northern Mexico and have taken advantage of this loophole several times. I take the bus to San Antonio (I could fly out of Laredo as well but it is typically much more expensive). Not only do I avoid the covid test but I save over $100 in the process. Even on an award ticket, the fees are $89 to fly out of Mexico to the US. On my recent flight from San Antonio, the fee was $5.60.
    During the height of the pandemic, the stupidity of this rule was illustrated quite well. Americans visiting Cancun would test positive and not be able to fly. So many of them simply flew to Tijuana, walked across the border, and took a domestic flight.

  2. Stuart Guest

    The best thing about this post is that you didn't call it "ice hockey"

  3. FlyerDon Guest

    I would think they would want to know if one of the players test positive before they travel with the team. Plus they travel with a medical staff. How hard would it be to conduct a 15 minute test on 20 some players? I don’t think this has anything to do with covid, I think they just like riding on busses.

  4. Nick Guest

    Pre arrival testing is highly effective…just like China’s zero- Covid policy. Xi said don’t question it, I suppose Biden would say the same?!

  5. derek Guest

    Canadians are jerks, unfortunate to say. This proves it. A lot of Canadians are anti-American, seething with hate. Canadian news on TV is often anti-American, taking swipes at the US.

  6. Kevin Guest

    That testing requirement is really a pain in the ass, so I just fly into Mexico and saunter across the border, with the thousands of illegals that cross everyday. No testing, no hassles, some weirdo from some NGO occasionally handing out fresh empanadas, Mariachi's playing. It's like a freaking party every week, and certainly beats having to hassle with the fake tests and then having to clear customs at Newark or Dulles airports.

  7. globetrotter Guest

    To those narrow minded individuals who have no medical education, training and experiences, Paras Minhas presents a very logical explanation why we still need masking and testing in moderation. Mark expresses the main reason why western countries continue to be in the rabbit hole. There are mean-spirited and ill intended low level medical workers and airport employees who are hell bent to provide ample opportunities for the virus to develop more infectious strains. The vaccines...

    To those narrow minded individuals who have no medical education, training and experiences, Paras Minhas presents a very logical explanation why we still need masking and testing in moderation. Mark expresses the main reason why western countries continue to be in the rabbit hole. There are mean-spirited and ill intended low level medical workers and airport employees who are hell bent to provide ample opportunities for the virus to develop more infectious strains. The vaccines worked and Covid policies are well intended but are sabotaged by many among us with selfish agendas. Yesterday the country marked 1M Covid deaths and continue to rise. The highest record among western countries and all we talk is more border opening fast and soon and more travels. A very indifferent section of population.

    1. Sheila Guest

      Looks like you are a troll. Is Putin paying you?

  8. echino Gold

    I am doing the same thing living in Vancouver: driving over the border and then flying. No testing required that way. Otherwise it's $79 + tax per person at YVR, with a risk of a positive.

  9. Drdrew Guest

    Disagree. Testing is helpful. It’s part of a layered strategy esp since they only require rapid tests. Stop with the false information.

    1. Pepino Guest

      Let's then introduce testing for domestic flights.

    2. Never In Doubt Guest

      By that (faulty) logic, why do we not have testing for land/sea entry?

    3. Drdrew Guest

      Have to be fully vaccinated for land borders.

    4. Jase Guest

      Do you really think fully vaccinated are not testing positive at high rates? We all know that is not true.

    5. Sandy Guest

      You sounds like a troll, drew. Is Putin paying you?

  10. grichard Guest

    Just for the record: The requirement isn't for a test within 1 calendar day "of landing". It's a test within 1 calendar day of the start of travel to the US.

    So you can test Monday for a red-eye flight scheduled to depart on Tuesday and arrive in the US on Wednesday, even if delays push your arrival to Thursday.

  11. ernestnywang Member

    I respectfully disagree. From a pax's perspective, I feel safer on a flight when I know everyone was recently tested negative. I do not want to be on a flight where someone infected with COVID-19 sits next to me, or at least I want to minimize the chance. An antigen test is very quick anyway. The US is not asking for a PCR test.

    Most people who cross by land are on a personal vehicle,...

    I respectfully disagree. From a pax's perspective, I feel safer on a flight when I know everyone was recently tested negative. I do not want to be on a flight where someone infected with COVID-19 sits next to me, or at least I want to minimize the chance. An antigen test is very quick anyway. The US is not asking for a PCR test.

    Most people who cross by land are on a personal vehicle, so the situation is quite different. I agree the bus is a loophole, but the existence of a loophole should not be the justification to scrap the entire system in place. Also, people only cross by land to the US from Canada and Mexico, so it is much easier to manage.

    1. PZ Guest

      So then by your logic, shouldn't testing apply to all domestic flights as well?

    2. Pepino Guest

      So you will avoid taking any U.S. domestic flight? No testing requirements apply to those flights.

    3. Jared Guest

      @ernestnywang enjoy being lulled into a false sense of security. If you think for one second that everyone is getting a true COVID test anymore, especially frequent leisure travelers. There are zero checks on validity of these documents at LHR in particular - I’d wager a good percent of each flight has someone with great acrobat pro skills and not a true test. This just needs to end…

    4. davd Guest

      Clearly you haven't thought this all the way through.

    5. Felix Guest

      ernestnywang, another Putin paid troll.

    6. ernestnywang Member

      To all who responded, I agree there are merits to your point. However, on long-haul flights such as those TPAC or TATL ones, it is almost impossible to not drink water, not have meals, etc., when you have to take your mask off. These flights also tend to me longer, meaning more exposure and more risks. On most domestic flights, if you want to, you can choose to not eat and not drink for the entire duration.

  12. D3kingg Guest

    It won’t matter much in another week or so. All 3 Canadian teams in the playoffs have lost home ice advantage already.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      The Blue Jays MLB season is only 1/6 over.

      They travel to the US for half their games, and US teams travel to Canada for the other half.

      They're all doing the same things.

    2. Bob Guest

      The Jays took a bus to Cleveland this week.

  13. stogieguy7 Diamond

    The testing requirement needed to end months ago. But the Biden regime loves them some COVID theater and they simply can't let it go. Much like the mask mandates - they kept on with them even as other countries dropped them because "the science" finally figured out that a cloth mask isn't going to restrain a virus. It's a control thing, you see. And it's one more reason to despise these idiots who run the US government right now.

  14. Jimmy Guest

    A friend tested positive in London before a flight home. BA switched her flight to go to Vancouver, BC and then they drove from there to Oregon. I'm still not sure if I should be concerned or impressed or both.

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @Jimmy

      London , Ontario ? Or London London ?

    2. Willem Guest

      Must be LHR if they flew BA

  15. Never In Doubt Guest

    It’s not going to prevent me from traveling, but it’s a nonsense policy.

  16. JetAway Guest

    You're dealing with a risk-adverse public health bureaucracy. It's going to take another Court Order to stop this wasteful nonsense or it will go on forever.

    1. Steven Guest

      Unfortunately, it'll be completely removed from the CDC's ability by the courts. Literally making it impossible for the CDC to dictate a mandatory pre-travel test again for any other pandemic in the future. This government is not only acting against science, it's completely disabling scientific policy from ever coming to light again. Congratulations, Democrats.

    2. Eric Guest

      It was NOT the Democrats who pulled down the mask mandate. A federally appointed trumpanzee judge from the FloriDuhhhh circuit, rated by the ABA (American Bar Association) ZERO qualified made the ruling. Illegally ruling for the nation, w NO CDC guidance, rather her own Kabuki science.

      Bottom line: Over a million souls passed & counting, an uptick in the newest iteration of Covid, triple vaxxing & wearing a KN95 (for the immune compromised) is...

      It was NOT the Democrats who pulled down the mask mandate. A federally appointed trumpanzee judge from the FloriDuhhhh circuit, rated by the ABA (American Bar Association) ZERO qualified made the ruling. Illegally ruling for the nation, w NO CDC guidance, rather her own Kabuki science.

      Bottom line: Over a million souls passed & counting, an uptick in the newest iteration of Covid, triple vaxxing & wearing a KN95 (for the immune compromised) is one’s best strategy, and respect to others to not infect w a breakthrough.
      Alternative: F around & play the Covid Roulette gm. (particularly w the new strain cases rising) & your next trip will be to Sandals Memorial Hospital. Or far worse ⚰️.

  17. Timo Gold

    I just returned from traveling around Europe. Returned via FRA and flight was canceled two days in a row but airport staff said original test was fine for subsequent days since it was an airline cancelation. So for two extra days I'm out and about. Got on the flight day 3 no problem. The test is a joke. I did it in hotel room via online proctor with eMed. They were very diligent about asking...

    I just returned from traveling around Europe. Returned via FRA and flight was canceled two days in a row but airport staff said original test was fine for subsequent days since it was an airline cancelation. So for two extra days I'm out and about. Got on the flight day 3 no problem. The test is a joke. I did it in hotel room via online proctor with eMed. They were very diligent about asking to see me with the test, scan QR codes, camera watching me test, etc. BUT, when they asked the result they didn't require a camera view of it...only my word was asked. It was negative but i could easily have lied. The one thing they should visually verify and they didn't! 30 minutes later and exact same process with my spouse. It's all so stoopid.

  18. Andy Guest

    Last time I did a pre-entry test was in London and the VS staff didn’t even look at it. They just said “did you get tested” and I nodded and, in I was checked. What a waste of my money.

    1. GBOAC Diamond

      We flew back on VS a month ago and no they didn't check our results at the airport but we we did have to upload our test results to their web site

  19. sean Guest

    I guess you haven't heard that MLB teams have been doing this, too? Whenever teams play in Toronto, on the return leg they've been bussing back over the border to Buffalo and then flying from there.

  20. BeeZee New Member

    I'll throw my votes away on 3rd party candidates I guess. Biden admin. have convinced me not to support them or the DNC anymore

    1. Jim Guest

      Do you like higher prices?

      That’s why

  21. Creditcrunch Diamond

    Time to end the US pre covid testing requirements for sure. We have to learn to live with it and can’t eliminate covid from our life’s. I note the travel industry has yet again lobbied the White House.

  22. BC Guest

    Why would the players not test using an antigen test (like Binax), then if negative, do a monitored test (either by eMed or their own medical staff) and then fly on a charter? If a players tested positive, they could still drive across the border, although ethically suboptimal.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Easier (and less risky) just to send the whole team by land.

  23. Paras Minhas Guest

    Ben, respectfully, you are ignoring a lot of the science. Different strains have different infectivity and severity. By keeping a testing requirement in place for overseas travel we can at least try to limit spread of novel strains so we can end the pandemic. By not having a test at all, we simply ignore all of that. You will see that in South Africa right now individuals are getting re-infected with another variant even after...

    Ben, respectfully, you are ignoring a lot of the science. Different strains have different infectivity and severity. By keeping a testing requirement in place for overseas travel we can at least try to limit spread of novel strains so we can end the pandemic. By not having a test at all, we simply ignore all of that. You will see that in South Africa right now individuals are getting re-infected with another variant even after previous omicron infection. So while the testing may be inconvenient for travel, it’s not the end of the world. Your nightclub example is an excellent point - but I imagine the CDC and this administration are at least attempting to curb some overseas strain spread. As a healthcare worker I can assure you testing and vaccination is our greatest defense in preventing further spread. Is it full
    Proof? Nope. It’s not - but it’s the best we have right now.

    1. Cedric Guest

      well the best we have doesn't work so why even use it? It's just a fake sense of security. I guess some people feel safe that way. But the reality of it is that there is no stoping any strain from enering. Even if you PCR test everyone like Canada did for a while.

      I would even argue that the more contagious strains have actually been a good thing. Its part of the reason we are moving on.

    2. snic Diamond

      Strains that are highly contagious are going to spread all over the world no matter what (short of complete border closures - and even then). Requiring testing is almost completely ineffective because people can be infected and not test positive, especially right after infection. Multiply the number of travelers by the probability of this happening, and you see that pre-departure testing is like trying to catch water in a seive. It is completely ineffective, and...

      Strains that are highly contagious are going to spread all over the world no matter what (short of complete border closures - and even then). Requiring testing is almost completely ineffective because people can be infected and not test positive, especially right after infection. Multiply the number of travelers by the probability of this happening, and you see that pre-departure testing is like trying to catch water in a seive. It is completely ineffective, and does nothing whatsoever to benefit public health. But the aggravation it causes is egregious. There is one horror story after another of US citizens unable to return home for days and weeks because they tested positive. This must end.

      (And I am someone who strongly supported the initial shutdowns, mask mandates, earlier testing requirements, and President Biden's election. Biden is unwittingly irritating many of his strongest supporters by dragging his feet with removing the pre-departure test requirement.)

    3. Willem Guest

      "The science" falls apart that testing "works" w/ the Omicron strain, where we reduced the testing window and (racistly) banned travelers from Africa, yet within a month NYC not only saw the Omicron strain but it peaked there.

      Antigen tests won't buy us more than even a week, if that, for these newer, more contagious strains. We should be glad that they're becoming weaker, too

    4. Steven Guest

      Canada had a testing requirement from the start of the pandemic until April 2022, and we still got all the variants.

    5. Ehhhh Guest

      Testing and quarantine used by far stricter countries than the US failed to keep omicron out.

  24. Brian Guest

    This made me curious about the cross border xpress at Tijuana Airport - CBX. That airport is at the border and has an entrance on the US side too. Sure enough you do not need to test to use it.

    1. guflyer Guest

      I love CBX at TIJ. I have used it to enter the US twice since Covid and they don't require a test or anything. It is very convenient and I was impressed with the short length of the lines at CBP. I have actually been surprised that more airlines have not started service at TIJ because of this testing loophole.

  25. mark Guest

    I got tested in the greek islands last summer. it was in some sort of garage across the street from lab. the guy was re-using PPE. He also asked me which date I wanted him to put on the test. #shady

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Sheila Guest

Looks like you are a troll. Is Putin paying you?

3
Cedric Guest

well the best we have doesn't work so why even use it? It's just a fake sense of security. I guess some people feel safe that way. But the reality of it is that there is no stoping any strain from enering. Even if you PCR test everyone like Canada did for a while. I would even argue that the more contagious strains have actually been a good thing. Its part of the reason we are moving on.

3
derek Guest

Canadians are jerks, unfortunate to say. This proves it. A lot of Canadians are anti-American, seething with hate. Canadian news on TV is often anti-American, taking swipes at the US.

2
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