US & Canada Border Closure Extended (Again)

Filed Under: Travel

Unsurprisingly, Americans shouldn’t expect to be able to travel to Canada anytime soon, as the border closure has been extended once again. Not only that, but we’re seeing significant new restrictions for those who are allowed to travel between the two countries.

Canada closes border to Americans through February 21

The border between the US and Canada has been closed for non-essential travel since March 21, 2020. The border closures have consistently been extended for a month at a time. At this point the border is closed through February 21, 2021, meaning the border will at that point have been closed for 11 months.

The travel restrictions are intended to slow the spread of coronavirus. This prevents most non-essential travel, but select essential travelers, as well as goods, are still allowed to cross the border.

There are a few further things to note:

Canadians continue to be able to travel to the US by air

Trudeau warns not to expect the policy to change

While the border closure is currently through February 21, it seems highly likely that it will be extended beyond that. As Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a few months back, the situation in the US would have to materially change for the border to reopen:

“We have committed to keeping Canadians safe and we keep extending the border closures because the United States is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders. We see the cases in the United States and elsewhere around the world, and we need to continue to keep these border controls in place.”

Across the board, any travel over the coming months (especially internationally) really will have to be planned last minute, given how often restrictions are being updated.

A vast majority of Canadians continue to remain opposed to borders reopening. I certainly can’t blame them for that, especially when you consider that Canadians continue to be allowed to vacation in the US if traveling by air (not that they’d necessarily want to, but they can).

Canadians overwhelmingly oppose the border reopening

Coronavirus in the US vs. Canada

How do case numbers actually compare in the US & Canada?

  • The US has seen a total of 23.6 million cases and 393K deaths, with a population of 328 million
  • Canada has seen a total of 696K cases and over 17K deaths, with a population of 38 million

While case numbers are currently increasing in both countries, there’s simply no arguing that the situation is much worse in the US than Canada.

The US has seen 3.9x as many cases per capita, and 2.7x as many deaths per capita.

The US has seen a lot more cases & deaths than Canada

Bottom line

The border between the US & Canada continues to be closed through at least February 21, 2021, though it’s highly likely the closure will be extended beyond that.

Canadians continue to be able to vacation in the US (if they want), while the opposite isn’t true, so I can’t blame Canadians for the sentiment. However, travel between the two countries requires pre-travel testing in both directions, and a quarantine upon return to Canada.

When do you think we’ll see the US & Canadian border reopen?

  1. Oh, they do want to vacation/winter in the US. I live between Miami and Fort Lauderdale and am seeing near normal numbers of Canadian license plates (they must have left the cars here if the borders are truly closed to one way car traffic), mostly Quebecois, and Ontario. And anecdotally, I hear much more French, as well as the usual Spanish at the local Costco.

  2. I think more of a concern will be that us Canadians (and many other countries) won’t want to vacation in America for some time. A huge hit to the economy. The intense racial and political unrest, never good at any time, will linger for years in America. While my non-white friends have indicated their days of visiting America are pretty much done, I certainly see my yearly NYC visits ending. I’ll give my hard earned money to another, less troubling country (and likely discover more of my own). Covid started the border closures, but four years of intense hatred and division in the US will destroy international tourism for years. IMO.

  3. There’s a story in yesterday’s WSJ about wealthy Canadians and South Americans making trips to Florida to take advantage of the vaccine free for all there. (And snowbirds already in the state, too.)

  4. I live right on the border (Canadian side) and I’m very disappointed that so many of my countrymen have decided to take advantage of the loophole in US travel restrictions. Many Canadians are having their cars transported across the border and then picking them up in border towns with airports. Given the magnitude of the global situation, I don’t think spending one winter in Canada would be asking too much.

    I am more concerned about their return to Canada in the spring. Last spring saw a flagrant violation of quarantine restrictions by returning Canadians, which most likely will still be in place in 2021.

    Along with the privilege of being able to head south (by air) comes the responsibility to abide by COVID restrictions when they come home.

  5. To Steve’s point – international tourism to the United States will be hit very hard over the coming years, not just because of our poor response to Covid. The reality is that we just don’t look terribly attractive to visitors, especially people of color (a large portion of the travel market, notably from Asia).

    If there is pent up demand to travel, where will it be unleashed when we’re allowed to move freely again? Wouldn’t it be one of those countries in which Covid isn’t circulating, where you’re not allowed to carry guns into hotels, and where you’re not considered partisan for wearing a face mask?

    As an American, it’s hard to think why you’d come here. My guess is that the Asia Pacific region will reap the lion’s share of demand when all is said and done. That’s where I’ll be going.

  6. @Erik They could be dual citizens or visiting citizens. There are still various general exceptions to the policy.

  7. Biden should make it tough for Canadians. Reciprocity. Now Americans are banned from Canada even if they are willing to quarantine and have been vaccinated. Even those Americans with urgent business in Canada banned. Travel that is really essential is deemed “nonessential ” by Canada. Justin is a jerk.

  8. Thank you covidiots for continuing to spread the virus with non-essential travel and refusing to wear masks/socially distance. You continue to keep us isolated from many countries in the world.

  9. @ derek – why didn’t Trump make it tough for Canadians to enter to the US and impose the reciprocity you demand?

    That’s the question to ask.

  10. So enforcing sovereign borders stops the spread of viruses and diseases? Sounds like a good reason to enforce borders all the time? Why are democrats in the US against this?

  11. “When do you think we’ll see the US & Canadian border reopen?” September 2021.
    Both countries woefully slow at getting vaccines into arms.

  12. A cousin of mine set to marry in 2020 may have to bump it another year because gatherings in Ontario are still completely not allowed. He’s lucky to have a flexible venue.

    A friend of mine (expat living in Singapore) just got out of quarantine there after coming home for the holidays (with a husband on remote work they took the risk). She’ll have to postpone a bunch of things (including her ceremony in Toronto and… a honeymoon in South Africa just as they’re discovering a new strain… what?)

    I’ve had to rebook with a different airline to bring my wife home (permanent resident of Canada) later this year. One key factor about who’s allowed in Canada – non-Canadian family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents still have a way home. IRCC isn’t providing any slack about requiring residency out of permanent residents, so they’re also allowed home.

    If the United States wants to close their borders to Canadians, I don’t blame them. In the end it’s your decision as Americans. But we let permanent residents in, while your permanent residents (Green Card Holders) cannot (from what I remember, a temporary executive decision). I don’t think that’s fair to them who had to prove to you for so long and in a privacy-invading way that they’re worthy of living in the Land of the Free.

  13. Probably not the right forum given this is for travel but this article raised the issue…

    The US has done a horrible job over the past year but in terms of countries with the same population density as Canada (they have more land area and around 10% of our population), Canada is amongst the worst performing countries.

    This idea that Canada has done a great job and needs to protect itself from the American scourge is silly.

  14. Are Americans banned, or just people who have been in America during some period (such as two weeks)?

    While not pleaded, I find the latter category to be acceptable and fair. However, I have an issue with bans being based upon passport and not where one has been.

  15. @gutflyer. Put your outrage away.
    Noone is allowed into Canada whether American, Zambian or from the moon.

  16. Hi Pete, that is a bizarre statistic. Canada has vast amounts of land area that has absolutely no people in it. Urban residents of Canada make up 81.5% of the population, rural residents, just 18.5%. The US has 82.5% urban and 17.5% rural. Basically no difference. It doesn’t matter how much land area you have if everyone is living in a few small pockets of it.

    Further, using the death rate is a red herring. The average life expectancy of a Canadian is about 82. The average age of a COVID fatality in Canada is approximately 82. The average life expectancy of an American is 78. I have previously noted in comments that the reason that the Canadian fatality rate is even as close as it is to the US rate is because the average person who is dying from COVID in Canada has been dead for four years already (likely from some version of heart disease, which is not as survivable in the US as in Canada).

    Canada has not done a great job of protecting their senior population, however, to suggest that the issue is even remotely comparable to the US based on a statistic that has no relation to the spread of the disease is, in your words, silly. Even by looking at the graph, it is apparent that population density has virtually zero correlation with COVID fatality rate, never mind causality. I do salute you though for finding a random statistic that could make it look like the US and Canada are doing similarly poorly. That could not have been easy to find.

  17. Farnorthtrader,
    I guess since your response was longer that must make it somehow more credible…given your handle, a bit snowflake sensitive to Canada criticism?

    I refer to population density not to suggest causality, but because Lucky himself raises population size as a metric of comparison.

    I specifically said I wasn’t comparing Canada to the US but that it wasn’t doing that great compared with other countries.
    Since you don’t like per capita death rate then what metric would you like to cherry pick to put your country in a better light?

  18. How would there be anyone thinking that this situation will improve anytime soon – There has been devastation in the US due to a ridiculously slow response to COVID and now civil unrest – I won’t be travelling to the US in the foreseeable future – why ?

  19. I just want to be able to fly out of YYZ. (I live in WNY). Canadians can fly here and stay but I can’t drive across the border, go to the airport and fly out.

  20. @Pete – Canada is the second largest country in the world yet 85% of its population lives within 100 miles of the US border. Population density doesn’t work as a reliable comparison with the US in this instance.

    With regards to Canadians going to the US for vaccines, many of these are seniors going to their US homes where they spend most of the winter each year. This has gotten a lot of news coverage up here in Canada as apparently the Florida Governor was encouraging it as he wants snowbirds, Canadian or US, back down south for economic reasons. They do have to get their names on waiting lists for vaccines but the local US authorities have deemed them eligible. If they hadn’t of done that maybe more would have stayed home. One couple interviewed where on three different waiting lists. I have no idea what the local rules are and if they have to be property owners to qualify, hence paying some taxes?

  21. The comments on this blog are becoming so brutally annoying and politicized. It’s tiresome. Maybe a reflection of nobody being able to actually travel?

  22. I find the drip drop drip of these policies so annoying. If authorities no there is almost no chance of it opening for 6 months, why not just bite the bullet and extend it for 6 months? Its organizational dynamics 101 to underpromise and overdeliver. Yet with these policies, the government does the opposite.

  23. @Steve
    For the second time, I am not comparing the US to Canada.
    I bring up population density in the context of suggesting whether you regard Canada as population “dense” or not, it still has not fared as well as certain other countries.

    If you still think Canada has done a great job, I’m not going to debate that.

  24. + 1 on Erik’s comment. Go to any south florida bar (they are open) showing a hockey game and you’ll find a gaggle of Canadians

  25. Can’t help but laugh at the ridiculous and uneducated commentators here. No country in the world is more welcoming to people of colour. The rest of the world is far more racist.

  26. I just don’t understand why some people aren’t able take it seriously. If the rules are enforced strictly we’d already have moved past this in just a few months. Friends in China told me China’s lock down used drones, armed soldiers and metal fences. An Uber driver there couldn’t even get back to his family in the same city out of a neighborhood he took his client to because 2 minutes after he drove in, it was quarantined. That’s how serious they took it. Now they don’t have to wear masks and even held several music festivals. As for vaccination, ordinary Chinese citizens don’t even get guaranteed vaccines, they have to send special applications to the government to prove themselves to be vital enough to the society first.

    Yet we still have people complaining about freedom, not being able to go on vacations or not getting a haircut and spinning up conspiracy theories. They want the same fast result yet if either government used China’s method I can’t even dare to imagine what would happen.

    I did not have the chance to visit my family for almost 3 whole years, and when I finally could I am not able to go. In addition to that because of this pandemic and border restriction me and my now ex-fiance were not able to see each other for an entire year, she’s from the States and she planned to visit in last February and finally move in together when this mess ends, but we do understand that it’s necessary to limit traveling for the health and safety of both countries and we tried our best to keep each other strong and keep it interesting. Just two days ago we broke up because we were and still are literally both suffering from miscommunications and not being able to be with each other for an entire year and now we both have to face the fact that we have to live through a future we built for both of us alone. She told me, crying, that she doesn’t want to have the possibility of us becoming incompatible since we can’t progress together. Can you even imagine how it feels to be working for a future for years then have it all taken away, without your family at your side and your other half breaking off because they don’t want to hurt you? It’s pure agony. Every time I step under the water in my shower I question why I am still alive, yet I have to keep going thinking there’s nothing to live for anymore, even went so far to blame her for losing faith in a future in my mind while knowing it’s not true, that’s how much it hurts. Everyone is struggling, everyone is sacrificing, and a lot of us are having our lives destroyed and I can’t imagine what the medical professionals are going through. Yet still, what a mess.

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