Americans flock to Canada for first time since pandemic closed borders

Canada reopened its border to fully vaccinated Americans on Monday

Canada reopens border to US visitors after 17 months

Canada reopens border to US visitors after 17 months
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Anna Diraddo fought back tears as she crossed into Canada for the first time since January 2020.

The New York state resident had been unable to visit her mother in Montreal since the US and Canada closed their borders on March 21, 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s emotional,” said Ms Diraddo. “I’m very excited to see my mother and spend a few days with her.”

On Monday, Canada reopened the world’s longest unprotected border, allowing fully vaccinated Americans to enter the country.

Vicki Poulin and her husband, Robert, drove up from their home in upstate New York to the St-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing in Quebec, Canada. The Montreal native hadn’t been home in more than a year and a half.

“It's absolutely wonderful,” said a grinning Ms Poulin. “We're just so happy to be here.”

Americans have lined up all across the continent to enter Canada at other border posts as well. At the crossing between Fort Frances, Ontario, and International Falls, Minnesota, travellers waited up to seven hours to enter Canada on Monday morning. In Lacolle, Quebec, the main border crossing for travellers driving from New York to Montreal, the wait time was only 15 minutes.

The Canada Border Services Agency told The National that it was not keeping real-time entry traveller statistics and would not comment on any increase at its entry points. Denis Vinette, the vice president of the agency's border task force, told USA Today, however, that a 10 to 25 per cent increase in traffic into Canada was predicted for August 9.

Travellers looking to skip quarantine must have received all required doses of a Covid-19 vaccine approved by Health Canada 14 days before their travels.

They must also provide proof of a negative Covid-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours of entering the country. The test, as well as vaccination records, must be uploaded to the ArriveCAN mobile app within 72 hours of arrival.

But the requirements haven't stopped tourists from coming to visit as soon as the country opened its doors.

Scott Miller drove north from his home in Nyack, New York, for a one-week holiday. Mr Miller and his two daughters were ecstatic to be back in Canada, and had plans to visit the Montreal Botanical Gardens and eat.

“It's great,” said Mr Miller. “The Canadian folks are always so welcoming and so nice. We're looking forward to seeing our northern neighbours again.”

For many crossing into Canada on Monday, it was the longest they had ever gone without setting foot in Canada.

Until the pandemic, Christian McCracken, an American who lives in Amsterdam, had spent part of every summer of his life at his family cabin on Lake Memphremagog in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. But as the world ground to a halt in March 2020, Mr McCracken, 32, found himself shut off from family and friends.

“It's just the place where we meet as a family,” he said. “It's always been that way, for my whole life.”

On Wednesday, Mr McCracken is flying to Toronto for a wedding, then he will head east to the cabin – a moment a year and a half in the making.

“It's going to be a super-special moment that I'm looking forward to, big time,” he said.

While Canada has opened its doors, Canadians wishing to visit the US will need to wait until at least August 21. The administration of US President Joe Biden has yet to announce when it will open the US side of the border.

Updated: August 10, 2021, 7:35 AM