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 once again been extended.

Canada closes border to Americans through November 21

The border between the US and Canada has been closed for non-essential travel since March 21. Prior to this week the border has been closed for non-essential travel through October 21. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but the border closure has now been extended through November 21, 2020.

This marks the seventh extension, as we’ve always seen the border closure extended by a month at a time (first through April 21, then through May 21, then through June 21, then through July 21, then through August 21, then through September 21, then through October 21, and now through November 21).

This is being done to control 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 couple of further things to note:

  • Americans are allowed to transit Canada enroute to a third country, but only if remaining in sterile transit (though there are relatively few countries Americans can travel to, so that’s largely a moot point)
  • Canadians are allowed to vacation in the US if arriving by air, though Americans aren’t allowed to vacation in Canada

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 November 21, it seems highly likely that it will be extended beyond that. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the following during an interview this week, suggesting 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 8.46 million cases and 223K deaths, with a population of 328 million
  • Canada has seen a total of 209K+ cases and nearly 10K 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 4.7x as many cases per capita, and 2.6x 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 November 21, 2020, 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…

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

  1. @Ben you should write an article about your experience entering Germany with Ford. He’s a US citizen without EU citizenship, correct? I find that to be interesting especially since I will be heading over to Germany with my spouse who is a German citizen this December. Was it a hassle with documentation to prove marriage, etc?

  2. We have also tested ~8.5x the number of people: 79.6mm vs 9.3mm

    Seems like a prudent piece of information to include if you are comparing…

  3. Canada themselves are facing an uptick in cases as we speak. Let their fascist, nationalist government handle it! If they want the tourism sector to die, so be it. Only Donald Trump’s policy of keeping most borders open without quarantine requirements is benefitial to international travel.

  4. @business guy, nice try, but on a per capita basis, the US and Canada have tested about the same number of people. The test positivity rate in the US is about 7%, in Canada it is about 2%, so chances are that the actual case rate in the US is not 4.7 times Canada’s but actually closer to 15 times.

  5. @Business Guy – If the U.S. has tested 8.5 times the number of people versus Canada (79.6 million people versus 9.3 million people), that matches up very closely with the population disparities between the two countries. According to Lucky’s information in this article, there are 328 million Americans and 38 million Canadians, which if you do the math means that America’s population is 8.63 times the size of Canada’s population. That matches up almost perfectly with the testing disparity of 8.5. Therefore, our infection and death rates should be almost equally accurate if based on testing numbers.

  6. if you were Canada, would you wanna welcome those covid-hands-unwashed masses from south of the border, or you wanna keep the nation pristine ?

  7. @Business Guy. Yes, but you also have 8.5x as many people! So it makes sense you’d test more people…

  8. Things are getting worse across Canada though. Your numbers Lucky are for cumulative cases, which includes the summer when cases were high in the US but fairly low per capita in Canada.

    But if you look at the new cases in the past 14 days, gap between the US and Canada is much less. Quebec, the worst affected province, even has per-capita case rates that are close to Florida (for new cases in the past 14 days). And Manitoba and Alberta have per-capita rates that are near California. Atlantic Canada on the other hand has very few cases, even with the minor outbreak there now.

  9. As of this week we have 8 cases of COVID here in Nova Scotia, and nobody that I know wants the Canadian/U.S. border opened until there’s a proven vaccine available. We feel relatively safe in our Maritime bubble and want to stay that way.

  10. Sure, compared to the US as a whole, things in Canada are more under control. However, many states near the border with Canada are NOT experiencing positivity rates higher than Canada. 7-day average positivity rate in NYC is at 1.7% (source: NYC Health) while Toronto is at 4.4% (source: CP24). NH is at 1.3%, VT is at 1.4% (source: JHU) while Quebec is at 4.7% (source: Sante Quebec). Toronto Public Health has announced that it was scaling back contact tracing as new infections exceeded its capacity. It’s politically useful for Trudeau to continue the “bash America” theme, but things are not looking so great north of the border.

  11. Umm, it gets cold in Canada and they’re still going to want to come to their winter homes to escape that. Y’all clearly haven’t seen the amount of Canadian cars in Florida for the winter.

  12. @Andy 11235, absolutely true, if you pick very specific examples of the worst of Canada and the best of the US. On the other hand, Wisconsin (near the border with Canada) positivity rate 23%, Alberta (even with a recent tripling) 3%. North Dakota (near the border with Canada) 20%, Newfoundland and Labrador, 0.6%. There is no doubt that specific areas of Canada are starting to see issues as the weather gets colder. Particularly Quebec has done a very poor job throughout the pandemic, with 15% of the population and 45% of the cases and 61% of the fatalities. Overall numbers still tell the most effective story of the difference in response between the US and Canada.
    Just another note in regard to NYC. The low numbers they are experiencing may be the result of them approaching herd immunity.

  13. @ farnorthtrader. There is no herd immunity in nyc. There is effective mask wearing and social distancing restrictions. There are millions of people in nyc. The second the masks came off during indoor gatherings for holidays in September and October, there were outbreaks.

  14. Ben’s own statistics show that Canada has a far higher death rate once you get Covid-19.

    Justin is just like Trump. Quite a few places in the US have a lower rate than Canada. Quebec is a cesspool of Covid-19 so people there should be banned from the US.

    The border should be opened up to important business.

  15. @Derek, another nice try. however, the average age of a fatality from COVID in Canada is around 82. The average life expectancy of an American is 78. The reason more Americans aren’t dying from COVID is because they were already dead four years ago because of the inability for poorer Americans to access healthcare and the overall health and lifestyle of Americans.

  16. Does not surprise me given the health of Black and Brown communities, the shockingly high obesity rate nationwide, more illegal aliens that have less healthy we are expected to suffer quite a few more deaths.

  17. On a travel related note, there is a pilot program happening in Alberta where the quarantine requirements are being relaxed. This is from the Calgary Herald Oct 22, 2020

    “Currently, travelers returning to Canada from outside the country are legally required to quarantine for 14 days upon entry. Beginning on Nov. 2 at the Coutts land border crossing and the Calgary International Airport, travelers will be offered a COVID-19 test upon arrival before proceeding into the required quarantine. If the test comes back negative, they will be able to leave their place of quarantine as long as they commit to getting a second test on Day 6 or 7 after arrival.”

  18. Some countries value the lives of their citizens over others. If people don’t feel safe to fly/shop/ go out it doesn’t matter if businesses are open there will be a lot fewer customers anyway so the result will be the same just takes a bit longer.

  19. Canada does not test as much as other nations. Even their criteria for testing is narrower. For example, my daughter’s clinical instructor was notified that she had been in prolonged proximity to an asymptomatic COVID-positive individual. She requested a test, but was denied and was told to quarantine for two weeks. Classes cancelled for two weeks.

  20. @B Trump closed the border in March and we had to stay in Lisbon for an extra week because the open flights to Toronto stopped in NYC and we were not able to transit. Would be interested to see if we can actually transit in SFO but all flights from YLW to SEA are cancelled because of the border closure.

    @Trever the sub-text that I heard about YYC was that this was for “returning Canadians” only. Perhaps I missed something? Bin doing election returns lately (during covid) which has been an interesting experience.

    The infection rates across Canada in the last 4 days have skyrocketed. In much of Canada we compare to the worst of the USA. At some time it would be useless to block tourists who might have less possibility of covid and who, at least, have the option to be tested before travelling. In BC you can’t even get tested if you have minor symptoms. That’s why Trudeau and Horgan are boasting that they have Covid under control – which they definitely do not. No testing – no bad numbers. Rumour has it that we finally have received some few instant test kits (8 MONTHS LATE) which have been distributed to eastern Canada.

  21. Thats ok America – you still have diseased desperate countries like Mexico, Dominican and Brazil that you are allowed to go to. And Costa Rica decided they are desperate enough too.

  22. @Bob, if they get nixed from the entire EU (decisions pending as I write this) where is it that Canadians can go today that Americans can’t?

  23. @Bob, I mean with no test, like the counties you listed. Americans can go to many countries in this hemisphere with a test.

  24. Blanket closing of borders like that is wrong, whether it’s done by the U.S., Canada, or even between provinces. And if there is one thing we’ve seen from this pandemic is that tables turn really quickly: today’s gloaters are tomorrow’s losers – and vice versa.

    Unfortunately, Canadians’ paranoia on this matter goes deep. Nonetheless, I’m really happy to see many commenters here genuinely and factually setting the Canadians straight on this one.

  25. “When do you think we’ll see the US & Canadian border reopen?” If Biden is President, Summer 2021. If not, 2022.

  26. Honestly not being able to travel to Canada is not a big deal for me. Thinks a bigger deal for snow birds that didn’t leave their car and/or RV in Florida. They are the ones that would definitely want travel to the US. I can fly to Turkey and not Canada in the winter?! That sucks.

  27. Not like anyone wants Canada anyway. If we wanted it the US would have negotiated it after 1812. Nothing I need there. Plenty of bacon, maple syrup here and I don’t care for Tims so take off, eh.

    But seriously we need to realize it never was about not getting the virus, it was about slowing the spread to reduce the impact on the hospitals. That was the whole story at the beginning. This has morphed into one of the largest power grab, lock-down who is essential and who is expendable ever.

  28. @Lucky “A vast majority of Canadians continue to remain opposed to borders reopening.” according to what source?

    @RuFuS You are correct

  29. @rc, there have been numerous surveys of Canadians that have shown support for keeping the border closed is between 70 and 90%. Most of those were completed during July and August, I can’t find any more recent, however, the sentiment was definitely overwhelming. The only part of the country that seemed to be more open to opening seems to have been Quebec. Probably makes sense since the province has not been able to control the spread of the virus much better than the US.
    Don’t feel bad, most of the surveys also showed that the Maritime provinces don’t want the rest of Canadians to visit either!

  30. I don’t understand why Donny (“it’s no big deal”) doesn’t open the American borders to world travel. Not that many people would likely want to come, but if it is, in fact, “no big deal” then the added tourism revenue couldn’t do anything but help. The dirty little secret is that we probably don’t have the supply chain and logistics to do fast testing in airports unlike such industrial powerhouses as Turkey and Romania.

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