Canadian Border Opens For US Tourists

by Kevin Burton

   My Canada vacation dreams are on the table again, but for how long?

   On Monday Canada lifted its restriction of non-essential travel by US citizens for the first time since the pandemic hit in March 2020.  That made for immediate celebrations for border dwellers who have relatives, friends and property on both sides of the border.

   But in its statement lifting the ban, the Canadian government warned that the border could close again at any moment if virus numbers take a turn for the worse.

   My wife and I would love to return to England, the site of our honeymoon. But even before the virus hit, other circumstances had us looking to Toronto as a closer, lower-cost alternative vacation site.

   Travel will likely be one of the last things plugged into our “new normal,” assuming one ever arrives. For midlanders such as us it will be difficult to plunk down money on travel that could be cancelled or become much more dangerous based on the Delta or other Covid variants.

   Even so, the border opening is encouraging, at least giving us possibilities.  Meanwhile, Canadian and Mexican nationals are banned from entering the US until at least Aug. 21, according to Reuters.

   US citizens who have been vaccinated for at least 14 days and meet other entry requirements may cross the northern border, the Public Health Agency of Canada said.

   “Travelers will need to have had a full series of a vaccine that is accepted by the Canadian government, which are the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson shots,” reported David K. Li of NBC News.

   Travelers must also by asymptomatic and test negative for COVID within 72 hours of travel. They must fill out a detailed application on the arriveCAN app before crossing, according to the Associated Press.

   Officials said they will not sacrifice safety for shorter waits at the border. It appears they were serious about that. Lines of cars with people waiting to cross stretched for more than six miles Monday, according to the Business Insider.

   Most of the shop owners on a BBC video said they were in favor of opening the border. Only one person they interviewed said she would prefer to ban stay on a bit longer for safety reasons.

   I’ve been to Canada just once as an adult, attending two Cincinnati Reds games at Montreal with my brother. The Expos won the first game but the Reds won the second one, on my birthday.

   That Montreal trip was when I learned Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang can speak French. 

   Montreal is a vibrant international city. I remember sitting at an outdoor café for a half hour and counting eight languages spoken by passers-by. There were probably others I didn’t recognize.

   I was afraid to use what little French I learned before going because I heard that people there were not tolerant of badly-spoken French the way Mexicans are of choppy Spanish. I did manage to order a cheeseburger at the Expos game.

   Once after stumbling through a French and English conversation with a waitress in Montreal, for some reason I asked if she spoke Spanish.  She did and I was able to ask about local music venues.

   Montreal also has an underground city with shops and tourist attractions. Very cool place. It compares favorably with say, Dayton, Ohio.

   I think my wife would enjoy Toronto more, since everyone speaks English. I’ve never been to Toronto unless you count the airport. But I have glowing reports on the city and a list of recommendations on things to check out from a friend in Michigan. 

   When it comes down to actual travel plans, I can see where destinations such as Memphis, South Dakota and Ohio – all of which we have talked about – might prove a lot less complicated. 

   We can also make a pretty good adventure out of visiting relatives in Oklahoma. 

   But Canada never leaves my thoughts completely. Even western cities such as Calgary and Vancouver seem interesting.  Then there is Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. That’s got to be a happening town, right? What traveler wouldn’t love to say they have been to Moose Jaw?

   But the virus will likely dictate our travel for a few years at least.

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