Canada Welcomes Vaccinated U.S. Travelers Today — and Wait Times at the Border Are Already Hours-long
Canada began welcoming fully vaccinated travelers from the United States on Monday, a milestone in lifting pandemic-era travel restrictions between the two neighbors.
Fully vaccinated travelers on their way to see Niagara Falls, Toronto, Banff National Park, and other tourist draws will now be allowed to cross the border without having to quarantine more than 16 months after the borders were closed to non-essential travel.
By the morning, wait times at land border crossings had reached up to seven hours at the Fort Frances Bridge between Minnesota and Ontario, and three hours at the St. Stephen 3rd Bridge between Maine and New Brunswick, according to Canada's government site. There was no delay at several other crossings, including Abbotsford-Huntingdon between Washington and British Columbia and St-Armand/Philipsburg between Vermont and Quebec.
"[Canada Border Services Agency] will not compromise the health and safety of Canadians for the sake of border wait times," agency spokeswoman Rebecca Purdy told The Associated Press in a statement.
Several Canadian businesses welcomed the influx of tourists, like Joel Villanueva, who owns Primo's Mexican Grill in White Rock, British Columbia.
"Let's get this thing going," he told the AP. "A lot of our customers are from the United States, and we are literally minutes from across the border. We welcome our Americans, and we depend on their foot traffic."
Janice Thomson, the head of Niagara Falls Tourism, told CBC nearly 30% of visitors to the area arrive from the U.S.
On Sept. 7, the border will be opened to fully vaccinated travelers throughout the world, Canada's Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra tweeted on Monday.
In order to go to Canada, travelers must have been vaccinated at least two weeks before their trip with either the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson shots. Tourists also have to get tested before traveling, carry paper copies of their vaccination records, and upload their documents to the ArriveCAN app or website.
Unvaccinated children under 12 will be allowed to travel with their vaccinated U.S. parents or guardians.
While Canada started welcoming Americans, the U.S. has extended the land border closure between the country, Canada, and Mexico for non-essential travel until at least Aug. 21. The closure does not apply to U.S. citizens coming back into the country after traveling abroad to Mexico or Canada.
Last month, the Biden administration said there were no plans to lift international restrictions just yet, citing the spread of the highly-contagious delta variant, but officials are developing a plan to re-open the country's international borders to fully vaccinated travelers.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.