US & Canada Border Closure Extended (Again)

Filed Under: Travel

The border closure between the US and Canada has just been extended again, through at least April 21, 2021. I think it’s worth revisiting this topic, given both the US vaccination timeline, as well as President Biden’s plans to lift travel restrictions.

Canada border closed to Americans through April 21

The border between the US and Canada has been closed for non-essential travel since March 21, 2020. The border closure has consistently been extended for a month at a time. Until now the border closure was in place through March 21, 2021, while the closure has now been extended through April 21, 2021.

This weekend it will have been one year since the border between the two countries has been closed, and with this latest extension the border will have been closed for 13 months.

There are a few further things to note:

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

Coronavirus in the US vs. Canada

How do case numbers actually compare in the US & Canada? Comparing the situation since the start of the pandemic:

  • The US has seen a total of 29.6 million cases and 538K deaths, with a population of 328 million
  • Canada has seen a total of 922K cases and over 22,500 deaths, with a population of 38 million

Since the start of the pandemic, the US has seen 3.7x as many cases per capita, and 2.8x as many deaths per capita.

Fortunately the situation in the US has improved considerably in recent weeks. Meanwhile Canada seems to be seeing cases once again slowly creeping up, while still being in much better shape than the US in absolute terms.

Comparing the seven day average in the two countries:

  • The US is seeing 55,001 cases per day and 1,260 deaths per day
  • Canada is seeing 3,215 cases per day and 31 deaths per day

As you can see, Canada is still doing much better, but with the aggressive vaccination timeline in the US, hopefully the situation here improves considerably in the coming weeks and months.

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

When are travel restrictions likely to be lifted?

When should we expect the border between Canada and the United States to reopen? Well, it depends on who you ask. The good news is that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel — widespread vaccinations are on the horizon, and we’re getting into spring and summer, which is better for minimizing the spread of coronavirus.

Still, we’re seeing very different narratives in Canada and the US.

On the US side, it’s being reported that President Biden plans to lift most travel restrictions around mid-May, which is based on the current vaccination timeline in the US. Now, keep in mind that Canadians are already allowed to enter the US by air, and it’s just the land borders that are closed.

Meanwhile the messaging from Prime Minister Trudeau is a bit different. Trudeau has added a variety of travel restrictions that are clearly intended to make travel as hard as possible, as a way of discouraging it. This includes banning flights from the Caribbean and Mexico, and requiring three coronavirus tests and a hotel quarantine for most travelers arriving from abroad.

It seems clear that the goal is to restrict travel as much as possible, even for people arriving from countries with lower infection rates than Canada. For example, even someone coming to Canada from New Zealand would have to undergo a hotel quarantine, get tested three times, and more.

When Trudeau was most recently asked about plans to lift travel restrictions with the US, he said the following:

“We’re all eager to be able to travel again. But, I think we’re all going to wait patiently until such time as the health situation allows us to loosen border restrictions internationally. That’ll be eventually, but not for today.”

Only time will tell what happens in May — will the US open its land borders to Canadians on a non-reciprocal basis (as it has done by air), or…?

I’m curious to see when Canada reopens to Americans

Bottom line

The border between the US & Canada continues to be closed through at least April 21, 2021, which represents a further extension of one month.

This doesn’t come as a surprise, given that not much has materially changed, and the Canadian government is trying to limit travel as much as possible. The much more interesting question will be what happens in May and June, as the US allegedly plans to lift its travel restrictions in the next couple of months.

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

  1. I am a canadian citizen working in USA. I will be fully vaccinated in April. Canada should relax travel rules for vaccinated people and have clear policies

  2. This is really frustrating. I’m vaccinated and was hoping to do a solo canoe trip in Ontario in mid-May. I’d spend one night pre-launch in a hotel in Ontario, then head into the wilderness for a week, then come out and head straight back to Michigan. Probably only contact 3-4 people the whole week. Any idea if there is some way to request some sort of waiver from Canada for something like this?

  3. Off topic slightly but I also want to see the Mexican border restrictions change as they are pure stupidity. As an American living in Mexico I can drive across the border, no issues, yet my Mexican girlfriend cannot; she has to fly. How in the #$%% can it be safer to be in an enclosed giant tube with a bunch of strangers than to be with me in our car?

    I truly feel for the Canadians since they are screwed in all cases.

  4. I think Alan’s comment is interesting since there are thousands of Mexican folks walking across the border daily with no covid tests or vaccine requirements it seems.

  5. DaninMCI makes a good point: Canadian border restrictions have never applied to refugees. It’s unclear if they even need to quarantine!

  6. Biden most likely thinks Canada is still part of the UK. Canada can keep Trudeau’s bewilderment and leftover AstraZeneca doses. Alan- so what you’re telling me is that governmental policies are boarding on the asinine….why I never…..

  7. @DaninMCI
    Those walking across the border daily are in the so called essential group (agricultural workers, truck drivers, etc.) and/or US citizens or residents. There are untold numbers of Mexicans with dual nationality who were born in the US but reside within Mexico (many are children who cross the border daily to attend school). No covid tests are required to cross the land border. Unfortunately my girlfriend does not fall into either category.

    Biden ran on a platform that he would follow the scientists. I think he needs to find some new ones! I guess science says that on foot you cannot catch covid, but by plane, most definitely yes. If you are a Mexican with a visa you cannot cross the border yet if you come from Central America and illegally enter, you are welcomed with open arms. The last category really angers me the most. I was recently in a remote part of Southern Mexico along the Guatemalan border and there were nearly zero cases; so few that the locals were not wearing masks nor did they personally know anyone who had been sick (I asked several locals). Then we started to see sporadic groups of people walking along the highway – this continued for several hundred kilometers. These were all Hondurans who had been part of a caravan who the Guatemalans had been unable to detain. Many of those detained in Guatemala subsequently tested positive, so undoubtedly many of those walking were infected as well. Yet because of Biden’s open border policy, here they were walking through a pristine part of Mexico, where life has been more or less normal for several months. I reside in northern Mexico and drove to southern Mexico as I view it much safer than flying.

  8. Not sure the cases per day is applicable unless population adjusted

    But the article is fine without the commentary about COVID handling comparisons

  9. @Jon

    Great comment, however, one question, are you referring to his spreading of covid or carbon when the idiot flies private jets while pretending he is an environmental czar!

  10. The U.S. vaccination rate currently greatly exceeds that of Canada. The U.S. has vaccinated 34 per 100 people while Canada has only vaccinated 9.2 per 100. Source-NY Times daily tally.

  11. The Biden Administration has graciously agreed to LOAN Canada and Mexico a couple million doses of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine that the U.S. holds but which have not approved the same for use in the U.S.
    Thank goodness European leaders are putting pressure on the U.S. to release the AZ vaccine to other countries.

  12. @Tum Dunn
    I live in mexico. Isn’t is great the US wants to loan a vaccine that they have not approved and are unlikely to approve? I guess POC only deserve second quality goods.

  13. They have not released their data nor have they requested emergency authority. It’s because their data is awful. It’s like the J&J vaccine but worse. EU has basically suspended it anyways.

  14. Vaccinated Americans that own property in Canada and Vaccinated Canadians that own property in the United States should be allowed across the border by car to maintain the property that they are paying taxes on.

  15. @Gia
    Good luck on that one – Faucci still wants you to double mask. What is the point of even getting the vaccine if nothing changes? Rand Paul made him look like a complete idiot in a recent senate hearing. I really hope that those vaccinated and previously infected start forcing some changes.

  16. Let us know when you see even a glimmer of light. We booked coming from Florida to Canada for mid-July. I should think if one is fully vaccinated, they ought to be able to come. Given that our Canadian friends are free to come, we hope for reciprocity. If we are quarantined for two weeks if permitted to enter, having booked a week’s stay, my research shows we can look forward to a marginally enjoyable vacation, and get to see hotel elevators up close.

  17. It is unfortunate that anytime Covid 19 is mentioned, the conversation inevitably devolves into a political debate. I’m a Canadian living in the US and would love to see my parents without a two week quarantine. But I understand that each country’s leaders are doing what they believe is sound. Neither have motivation to tank their economies and create an angry populace. We’re all considering our own needs. They’re considering millions of conflicting priorities with no previous map drawn to follow.

  18. @PaulS
    It’s not political it’s a human right to travel and see family/friends in another country. I don’t see why borders can’t open if you’re vaccinated. If not vaccinated and provide a negative test then one should be able to travel. I’m Canadian and my boyfriend is American and this border closure has been extremely frustrating. I’m hoping the borders will open soon at least for people to see loved ones or check on their properties.

  19. It is political theater. Politicians pretending they can control a virus. Never have, never will. They are even going so far as to say people should take a non FDA approved, experimental, gene therapy and they have wrongly called it a vaccine?
    The hotel quarantine in Canada is the height of government insanity and is illegal.
    It will be challenged and they will lose.
    Covid has been a prime example of governments getting involved and just making matters worse. The very damaging unintended consequences of their actions will last at least a generation and their actions have caused more death and dispare than covid itself.
    The ‘cure’ has been worse than the virus.

  20. Both countries need to realize that family is essential, not tourism! I haven’t seen my Canadian husband for a year now thanks to all the BS closures, restrictions, and quarantine requirements. There is no valid reason for him to not be allowed to drive into the US and back to Canada.

  21. As a Canadian who owns property in Ontario and returned from Texas last April and quarantined successfully at home for 14 days, I have difficulty understanding why this year should be different. The people and businesses in my home town went out of their way to make sure I had groceries and supplies, delivered in a safe manner. I had a similar situation planned for 2021 until the crazy rules came in about hotel stays, etc.
    I am willing to get a covid test before returning even though I am fully vaccinated.
    Canadian citizens are being treated harsher than temporary farm workers and refugees!
    I hope that someone puts a stop to the government’s discrimination against Canadians and uses some common courtesy and common sense!

  22. @g brown

    I wonder how many people are aware that in 1957/58 anywhere from 1 to 4 million people died worldwide from a flu virus yet at the time lockdowns, etc were not recommended. When I asked my elderly parents about 1957 when they were in there early 20s they have very little recall. Not that much different than covid.

  23. While I appreciate the overall perspective regarding the greater severity with which the US has been hit by the pandemic, at this point you might also want to start supplementing this post with some vaccination figures. The Canadian government may have been able to execute lockdowns on a much more coordinated basis so as to reduce the spread of the virus, but its vaccination strategy has not been inspiring. As I write this, approximately 25 percent of the US population has received at least one dose of the vaccine; Canada has managed only about 7 percent. The point at which asymmetric border restrictions against Americans look plainly ridiculous is fast approaching.

  24. Very simple solution…Impose upon Canada the same trade and travel restrictions they are imposing on the rest of the world. Reciprocity is fairness.

  25. I read the debate with great interest. I live in Florida but own property in B.C. On the whole Canada has done a superior job handling the COVID-19 virus by far than the U.S. one has only to look at my state to see that. But, I do believe the time is quickly approaching when science will tell us that it is safe to reopen the border for Vaccinated people. B.C. Is now over 11%, as of today with the first dose. They have added people with medical conditions to start next week, ahead of schedule. They are moving quickly down the age scale as well. While not at the U.S. rate of vaccinated, by mid May I’d bet over 50% will have received at least the first dose. Then both countries will be close to herd immunity!

  26. Trudeau only places greater travel restrictions in place after so many Federal & Provincial government employees were caught traveling to sunny destinations during the #scamdemic!

    Hospital CEO’S were also caught taking Xmas winter vacations after preaching to all to #StayHomeSaveLives

    The #SCAM is real!!!!!!!!!

    Canada has now agreed that #NHL players only have to #Quarantine for 7 days, but regular folk still require a 14 day quarantine……come on????

    Anyways, hopefully Prez Joe Biden does allow Canadians to cross over soon……this is getting ridiculous now!

  27. @Mike Hunt
    Totally agree!! The government is ridiculous, I guess NHL players can’t catch or spread covid but the rest of us regular folk can. I also hope Biden let’s Canadians to travel to the US soon. Canada also needs to speed up the process of vaccinations. It’s embarrassing how far behind Canada is with the rollout of vaccines.

  28. We have property in the US. I can fly there but returning home to my own country, I have to jump through hoops. I can’t see how checking your property isn’t considered essential. Last summer, we received a phone call from our alarm company that our front door was open. We checked our ring, and sure enough, it was. I could fly down the next day to check on it. Luckily we weren’t broken into, as we wouldn’t be able to even fill out a police report. We complied by quarantining when we returned home, so be it, but now a mandatory hotel stay? When we live in a single family home? With the rate of our vaccine rollout, we won’t have the country vaccinated until 2023.

  29. The restrictions are completely completely ridiculous and arbitrary… why can you drive across the border and not be sent to hotel jail for 3 days (costing $2000)? The pilot program at YYC was working just fine… same or less positive infection rates as under the current draconian rule. Stats just released by GOC show that the infection positivity rate is 1.6% for air travellers the past few months…. far less than the 7.19 % positivity rate in the Alberta population at large right now. Maybe everyone should travel to get the numbers down!!!!

  30. I don’t think it should ever have been closed in the first place. The quarantine laws imposed in Canada violate all individual rights and freedoms. Once the border reopens I will immediately start travelling to the U.S., to visit my gf and friends, for shopping and racing. I will actually go over more often than before the lockdowns, to make sure I give less of my hard earned tax dollars to the socialist Canadian government.

  31. I am an American who has owned property in Northern Ontario for 20 years. It is on an isolated island 12 miles from the nearest road. I can drive straight through from the border to my camp. I have am vaccinated and will be mask wearing when I come in contact with, perhaps, three people(While outdoors). Pretty boy Trudeau needs to realize that people like contribute to his country rather than have a negative affect. Attending to my cabin helps me maintain positive and mental and physical health. Perhaps I should act like a snowflake and sue him for emotional distress.

  32. @Bill Hallock

    Sounds like you need to seek asylum so they will let you in. LOL
    The rules are ridiculous.

  33. I live in the US and have been fully vaccinated. My daughter and granddaughter live in Victoria and I have not seen them in 15 months. I understand that they can travel here by air, but that on returning they must quarantine which they cannot do as my daughter works and granddaughter
    attends school. Is this the case?
    I know that, at this time, I cannot go to Canada even by air. Help!!!!

  34. I’m from Ohio and just want to see my Canadian grandbabies! I’ve missed the whole first year of my youngest and I will never get that year back. My husband and I have both been vaccinated, and are both teachers having worked this whole year in the classroom with the students! It’s ridiculous that immediate family can’t even cross!

  35. @Tammy
    I feel your pain. I live in northern Mexico and my family cannot cross either to visit family. At least you do not have watch thousands without legal permission entering daily while you cannot. Biden does not have a clue.

  36. We haven’t seen our kiddos since early March 2020. They are stuck on the Canadian side with their bio-mother.

  37. I am in much the same situation as Bill Hallock. We own a small island in Ontario and can drive directly there in 7 hours. Both my wife and I have received both doses of Pfizer vaccine. We could understand being shut out last year when there wasn’t sufficient scientific information to combat the pandemic, but that has improved–vaccinations, better treatment, better understanding of how the disease is spread, etc. I think the time has come to at least start discussing in a constructive fashion reopening the border.
    For all the caution on the Canadian side, Ontario is having an outbreak right now that, while less severe than the current surge in Michigan, appears to approach some of our earlier numbers here. On both sides of the border the British variant is widespread. How can that happen if the border restrictions are so effective? Partly because the restrictions aren’t really all that effective in the first place. We live 60 miles from the border and regularly see trucks from Alberta and Ontario. Are those drivers able to go more than 1000 miles without eating or using the bathroom/washroom? Ha! Ontario outbreaks have been traced to international flights, most not from the US. I believe that my visiting my property would be at least as responsible as allowing those situations to occur. I generally respect Justin Trudeau, but I have trouble escaping the conclusion that his opposition to negotiating the expansion of border crossing from the US is politically motivated.

  38. My wife I, both U.S. citizens just purchased a house in Nova Scotia. Both of us were probands in the Moderna study and have been vaccinated for quite some time and have Covid passports. We are required to pay all local and Canadian taxes on the property and prohibited from traveling to the new home that we have not even seen. Alas, Canadian friends in the U.S. can return to their homes.
    One of the main reasons for buying in Canada was to leave the Trumpian politics, he was terrible, but he did not tax people and then not even let them live in their own property. The P.M’s rational seems as porous as Swiss cheese. Perhaps, even discriminatory.

  39. I am 81 years old. My wife and I are both US citizens, both fully vaccinated and have been for some time. We both continue to wear masks when around others, even outdoors. We built a house and have owned the rural property for 18 years. For the past 17 years we have spent 2 – 3 months at the house. Now it has been more than a year since we have been able to enter Canada with no end in sight. The only thing we are able to count on is getting and paying our property taxes right on time.

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