On March 21st, Canada and the United States will temporarily restrict all non-essential travel between our two countries for 30 days in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new restrictions, which come into effect on March 21st at midnight, will not impact Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are now returning home as was advised by the Federal Government earlier this week.
According to the joint statement, “non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature. Americans and Canadians who cross the land border every day to do essential work or for other urgent or essential reasons will not be impacted.
While individuals travelling across the border to pick up family members and immediately bring them back to Canada should be considered an ‘urgent and essential reason,’ ultimately, entry will be determined at the discretion of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry.
Additionally, the Government of Canada has also released further details related to their financial support program for Canadian travellers abroad.
The COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad will assist Canadians abroad who are directly impacted by COVID-19 by allowing travellers to apply for an emergency loan of up to $5,000 to help secure their timely return to Canada and to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return.
Moreover, the Government of Canada will provide additional support to Canadians directly affected by COVID-19 and unable to immediately return home. This support will be provided through new partnerships with local and other organizations and will complement existing consular services.
Eligible Canadians currently outside Canada and needing help to return home can contact the nearest Government of Canada office or Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As snowbirds return to Canada they can access the Canada Border Services Agency’s Current Border Wait Times table, here. This site displays wait times for reaching the CBSA primary inspection booth when crossing the Canada/U.S. land border and is updated hourly.
The most recent COVID-19 travel notices and related information published by the Government of Canada can be found here.
Canadian travellers returning home will need to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. If you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days, you should continue to isolate yourself from others and immediately call a health care professional or your public health authority.
We will continue to update our members on this development as new information becomes available.