US-Canada Border Closure Extension Moves Into The Summer

The US-Canada border closure has been extended by another month and threatens to last through the summer. At this point, it has been over a year of the border being closed, and it so far appears it will be several more months before nonessential travel can resume between the two countries.

Air Canada Boeing 787
Air Canada typically operates an extensive transborder schedule, but it will need to wait several months to bring those flights back in earnest. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

US and Canada extend border closure

On Thursday, May 20th, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced another one-month extension of the border closure between the US and Canada. This brings the total border closure to 15 months. The border closure prohibits nonessential travel between the United States and Canada.

Canada wants to open for the US

According to a report in CTV News, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated a few days ago that he wanted to see some relaxation of restrictions once the country gets to 75% of its population vaccinated.

Canadian airlines consider the US-Canada market as one of their most important. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Getting to 75% will take time. Data from Canada shows that 45.1% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, but only around 4% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that around 49% of the US has received at least one dose of the vaccine while 39% are fully vaccinated. Of the population over the age of 12, the minimum age to receive a vaccine in the US, 57.9% have received at least one dose, while 46% are fully vaccinated.

Limiting travel

Canada has taken a rigorous approach to travel. It has worked with airlines to limits flights to top vacation destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.

Moreover, Canadians returning to the country have to abide by strict travel restrictions. All arriving in Canada will need to show proof of a negative test result taken within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time for the flight to Canada. This means that passengers who have a connection need to take the test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of their last direct flight to Canada.

Air Transat
Canada has worked with and asked airlines to suspend flights to major leisure destinations. Photo: Airbus

Moreover, when travelers arrive in Canada, they must take an additional test and quarantine in an approved hotel for up to three days at their own expense. After that, passengers can quarantine for the remainder of the 14-day mandated period at home. There are no exemptions for vaccinated travelers.

Canada has also banned high-risk travel. For example, all flights from India and Pakistan to Canada have been extended until at least June 21st.

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A long wait for a border reopening

At this time, Canadian airlines are mostly flying connecting passengers. Transit passengers must abide by strict restrictions and are not allowed to leave the secure transit area. If, in the case of a flight cancellation or delay, passengers have to abide by a mandatory quarantine until their departing flight.

Airlines cannot fully survive from only transit passengers. Americans have no dearth of options as US carriers bring back more flights. The US-Canada air market is essential for airlines like Air Canada and WestJet. Air Canada has positioned itself for a winter reopening of the US-Canada border.

Air Canada
Air Canada is hoping to operate a robust Hawaii schedule this winter. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Airlines are planning to bring back frequencies or start new routes to prepare for a return of air travel. Much of those plans are contingent on the loosening of travel restrictions. For now, given the statements authorities have made, it will likely be the fall, if not later, for the border to reopen for nonessential travel.

It is possible that Canada could reopen the border sooner for vaccinated travelers. Several countries around the world have reopened for passengers who can provide proof of vaccination. However, Canada has not shown the kind of eagerness those largely tourism-dependent countries have to reopen for Americans.

What do you make about the border closure extension? Let us know in the comments!