Canada Opens To Americans, But The U.S. Side Of The Border Remains Shut

U.S. Covid-19 travel bans make no sense. They are about politics, not science. Lifting travel restrictions looks weak, and the administration needs to appear to be ‘doing something’.

Virus spread is increasing in the United States, but that just means that foreigners arriving from more places are less likely to carry the virus than the median unvaccinated American – double and triply so for vaccinated foreigners who test negative for Covid-19.

Unvaccinated Russians are welcomes into the U.S, while vaccinated French who test negative for Covid-19 are not – even as Americans return home from France in droves.

But how about this?

  • On August 9, 2021 Canada will re-open to vaccinated Americans. Any vaccine approved in Canada is eligible, and that’s the 3 which are approved in the U.S. plus AstraZeneca. (They will re-open to the rest of the world September 7, though this could change.)

  • But the U.S. won’t re-open its side of the border. So Americans can go to Canada and return, but Canadians – coming from where there’s less virus spread – can’t cross the land border into the U.S.

The White House says it ‘won’t commit’ to re-opening the Northern border.

“We are continuing to review our travel restrictions and any decisions about reopening travel will be guided by our public health and medical experts,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the White House briefing. “We take this incredibly seriously but we look and are guided by our own medical experts. I wouldn’t look at it through a reciprocal intention.”

Remember, this is political, so the U.S. may just want to avoid making it look as though the decision is reciprocal. They’ll make their reciprocal decision ‘based on a review of the science’ in short order. But that’s just another reason why these restrictions are farce.

  • Restrictions haven’t kept the virus out of the U.S.
  • Restrictions haven’t kept mutations out of the U.S.
  • Fully vaccinated Americans are mostly protected
  • The greatest risk is to people who have chosen not to be vaccinated
  • And that risk mostly comes from other vaccinated Americans, rather than visitors

There’s been a restriction on travelers coming from the European Schengen area, but did you know that travelers have been permitted from Bulgaria – which is in Europe and which has faced one of the worst outcomes in the world from Covid-19? Travel has been permitted from Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile. All have had Covid epidemics as bad or worse than the U.S.

U.S. travel bans were slipshod and bungled by the C.D.C. when first implemented. But for all the talk of the Biden administration of reversing course on Trump administration failures, they’ve largely carried forward many of those same policies.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] The U.S. has kept its land borders with Canada and Mexico closed to non-essential traffic, even as Americans flock to vacation in Mexico in record numbers (American Airlines says they’re looking for any airport they don’t currently fly to with a paved runway) and even as Canada announced its re-opening to Americans and others. […]


  1. “U.S. Covid-19 travel bans make no sense. They are about politics, not science. ”

    Took you a year to figure that out, eh? Better late than never.

    Now the big question is.. will you also admit that Covid travel bans worldwide were all about politics? People are wising up one person at a time..

  2. This is more clickbait than fact. Canadians can continue coming here by plane. They have done so throughout the pandemic. I call it the DeSantis rule since Trump early on (and now Biden) have allowed Canadians to come down here because so many have homes in the swing state of Florida. I live in Michigan. US border control is allowing Canadians to drive through Michigan from the Detroit crossing to the Sault Ste Marie crossing since that’s the only practical way to get between places in Ontario.

  3. The Trump administration had a secure southern border so even if the covid-related travel restrictions made little sense, there weren’t huge loopholes. It is beyond hypocritical to argue that vaccinated tourists bringing money to spend can’t enter the US but immigrants that throw themselves into the US’ legal and social support systems can enter and are flown from Texas throughout the US.

  4. From all that I have read, it appears the Administration is driven by the following two things in reopening borders:
    1) the need to get more Americans vaccinated before an influx of tourists
    2) the aversion to asking for everyone’s vaccination status (that’s why you also see the continued insistence that ALL Americans regardless of vaccination status take a test before re-entry into the US).

    Unfortunately #2 is a quagmire I guess they don’t want to get into as there will be a slew of lawsuits and individual state orders that will try to overturn any such decision to separate the vaccinated vs unvaccinated.

  5. Agreed, Biden is a useless waste of space who is ruining America. Trump was worse but would not have kept borders shut down. Why don’t politicians have brains?

  6. @Ryan: Because Americans have brains, but choose not to use them out of laziness. As long as they continue to allow the Hypocrats and Republiscum to choose the only candidates that they will vote for, nothing will ever change in the US.

  7. Well Gary, you have to admit those “restrictions” where full of holes. I’m with you, “let my people in!” The only people at huge risk are those who chose NOT to be vaccinated. Let them get sick HA HA! Sounds cold, especially coming from a progressive Catholic but people forget: this is America, people have a right to be stupid. You can advise and guide them but in the end the personal responsibility is theirs! When they die, that process is called “culling the herd.” I feel angst for the children but in wars, even cultural ones, there is collateral damage. That’s on them. The one thing that angers me is their cowardice in not wanting to carry a COVID passport that says “proudly unvaccinated!” thus preventing us sane Americans from restricting their movements among us. I say “let the world in!”
    Let’s have some fun!

  8. You’re right, it makes no sense. I just learned Germans who are vaccinated can’t come to the USA, but Americans can return from Germany.

    What I can’t understand is if you’re required to have the vaccine before arriving to a place, oh let’s just say Greece, how can their numbers be increasing?

    Either that’s a lie or it’s because of the locals interacting with each other more after working with tourists…..

    I think it’s an exaggeration to say the least.

  9. I agree this is just click bait and not reality.

    JUST the land border of driving into the USA is closed but Canadians are free to travel to USA by air the entire pandemic.

    Canada is trying to look like the reasonable one again which isn’t the case. Canada has been far more punitive and irrational than america.

    Canada is trying to deflect now all the criticism.

    The MO for Canadian politics. Do worse than what america has done….it’s to protect canadians. But then reverse decision and say bad america isn’t doing the same as “nice” Canada.

    When in doubt as a Canadian politician. Blame america. Sadly a double standard but wins.

  10. Until August 9, Canada was terrible to Americans and still will be. Before essential travel was called non-essential and non-essential travel was called essential. They banned most Americans by determining if the reason for travel was valid.

    In August, they will require expensive testing which kills trips of a few hours or a weekend.

    The risk of transmission after vaccination and not having symptoms is low and lower than the average Canadian.

    Biden should retaliate for Canada being so pig headed for 17 months. They should be glad that Trump did not bomb Montreal in anger.

  11. Regardless of all the noise surrounding this issue it is still easier for Canadians to fly to the US than for Americans to fly to Canada.

  12. The essential travel designation has been a farce since day 1. Any low level salesman on a work trip for their corporate overlord was designated “essnetial”

  13. @Todd – Re: your first point, the vaccination numbers in the US are probably as good as they’re going to get. Everybody who wants one has been able to get one for months. You’re correct on the second point.

  14. Canadians have been flying into and out of the US for quite awhile. You would think a travel blogger would know this, instead he bashes the US as being unreasonable when Canada bars Americans and yet the US allows Canadians to come and go by air.

  15. “What I can’t understand is if you’re required to have the vaccine before arriving to a place, oh let’s just say Greece, how can their numbers be increasing?” Seriously? Do people still not get the fact that the vaccine is not 100% that you can still get covid and even though you may be most likely to have a mild case you can go around infecting others who are unvaccinated?

  16. @Bill correct Canadians have the possibility to fly in to the US but you have to understand the dynamics of ppl leaving in Montreal for example, if you want to do a short trip to upstate NY (or even NYC) it’s a short drive vs the hassle of flying, like it use to be the norm in 2019. Besides flight options have been reduced to a trickle and is now very expensive ($500 CAD YUL-NYC one way)

    so yes, people in Canada are looking forward to be allowed the through land borders. I’m telling you from personal experience that flying is not so simple.

    Now that Canada is allowing Americans we all hold our collective breath to see when the US will do their part and be reasonable by opening land border, after all it’s a shared border and the rules should be uniform.

  17. @Brian M. – “”after all it’s a shared border and the rules should be uniform.”

    The border is shared, but the territory is NOT. The United States is a sovereign nation (as is Canada) and is under no obligation to allow anyone who is not an American citizen into its territory.

    It’d be nice if the US opened it’s land border, but they’re under no obligation to do so.

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