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Traveling to the United States?  The rules are always in motion

Traveling to the United States? The rules are always in motion

American tourists eager to visit Canada received good news on Monday when the federal government announced that it would soon reopen its doors to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens.

However, some Canadians eager to cross the land border into the United States felt aggrieved because no reciprocity agreement was announced.

“I’m waiting patiently enough. We are all waiting patiently enough for this border to open, ”said Leslie Beitel of Lethbridge, Alta. She owns a second home about 290 kilometers away in Columbia Falls, MT, but cannot get there because the US land border is closed.

“It would be really nice if we could have free access in our place,” she said.

Here are the current rules for entering the United States, including what is subject to change.

United States Travel Rules

In March 2020, Canada and the United States agreed to close their common land border to non-essential travel to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The United States has decided to continue to allow Canadian tourists to enter by air, while Canada has banned American travelers from entering by any mode of transportation.

It was widely believed that – when the time came – the two countries would announce a joint reopening of the land border.

But that did not happen.

Monday, the Canadian government ad that on August 9, fully vaccinated Americans can enter Canada and even skip quarantine. The US government had nothing new to announce, however, other than that it was continue to review its current travel restrictions.

“Each country can set its own rules for how it will ensure the safety of its citizens,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a press conference in Hamilton on Tuesday.

WATCH | Canada will open the border to vaccinated Americans from August 9:

Starting August 9, fully vaccinated Americans can travel to Canada without having to self-quarantine, rules that could spread to the rest of the world in early September. 2:32

One day later, the United States declared that, unless changed, its side of the land border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least August 21 due to the risks posed by the pandemic.

Even so, Canadians can still enter the United States freely by air.

They must justify a negative COVID-19 molecular or antigen test performed no more than three days before their flight.

Upon their return to Canada, travelers must show proof of a negative molecular test performed in the United States. However, the Canadian government has said that on August 9, travelers can take this test when leaving Canada and use it both to enter the United States and to return home – as long as they are in the United States. United States for less than 72 hours.

Birgit Heinbach, right, could walk to her husband Ian Geddes’ home in Blaine, Wash., In 45 minutes. With the land border closed, the trip now involves two planes and most of a day. – This is ridiculous, she said. (Len Saunders)

Birgit Heinbach lives in Surrey, British Columbia, just seven kilometers from her American husband’s home across the border in Blaine, Wash.

Previously, she could walk to her husband’s house in 45 minutes, but since Heinback cannot travel by land, visiting her husband has become a long and expensive journey.

“I have to fly from Vancouver to Seattle, hang out there, take the next plane to Bellingham. So it takes me three quarters of a day,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Why won’t the United States reopen its land border now?

Last year the United States makes noises on the reopening of the Canada-US land border when Canada publicly opposed it.

So why was the United States silent on Monday when Canada announced its plans to reopen?

Foreign policy expert Edward Alden suggested that the United States was waiting to be ready to reopen its common land border with Mexico, which is also closed to non-essential travel.

“It would be extremely embarrassing for this administration … to lift restrictions on Canada without simultaneously lifting restrictions on Mexico’s land borders,” said Alden, professor of US-Canadian economic relations at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

WATCH | The Mexican Ambassador to Canada on closing land borders:

After learning that the United States would extend the closure of its land borders with Mexico and Canada until August 21, Mexican Ambassador to Canada Juan José Gomez-Camacho told Power & Politics he believed ‘It made sense for the United States to treat its northern and southern borders the same. . 7:28

Alden suggested that the United States not rush to reopen the border with Mexico because of the expected consequences: a flood of asylum seekers that they cannot immediately back down as well as the reaction of Republicans opposing the policies. Immigration Department of Biden.

“It’s mostly the political concern about Republicans,” he said. “It’s also, I think, just a [border] resource problem. “

Thursday, the US Department of Homeland Security tweeted that he is “in constant contact with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which the restrictions can be relaxed in a safe and lasting manner.”

Vaccine mixing issues

It is not clear at this point whether the United States will require Canadian tourists to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when cleared to cross by land. This is currently not a requirement for air travelers to the United States.

If the United States imposes a vaccination requirement, it could cause problems for the over 2.6 million Canadians who have mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The United States does not currently recognize the COVID-19 vaccine mix.

“The safety and effectiveness of receiving two different COVID-19 vaccines have not been studied,” Jasmine Reed, spokesperson for the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an email.

however, CDC says Mixed doses of the two mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, will be accepted in “exceptional situations”, such as when the vaccine used for the first dose is no longer available. This rule excludes the many Canadians who received an AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and an mRNA injection.

Questions about cruise lines

Several cruise lines follow the CDC guideline for their cruises departing from the United States where the passenger must be fully vaccinated. Norwegian cruise company does not recognize people who received mixed doses as being fully immunized. Princess Cruises, Carnival and Holland America do not recognize those who have mixed doses of AstraZeneca and an mRNA vaccine.

“It makes me feel like a second class citizen of sorts,” said epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine, who received one dose of AstraZeneca and a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine said studies so far suggest mixing vaccine doses is safe and effective, so the United States will likely change their policy at some point, which currently does not recognize them. (Lauren Winter Photography)

Muhajarine, professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, said studies to date suggest that mix vaccine doses is safe and effective, so the United States will likely change its policy at some point.

“That has to change, because it is such a narrow view of what is allowed,” he said.

“There are many countries that mix and match different types of vaccines. “

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