US Land Border Reopens to Leisure Travelers From Canada. So What's the Catch?

Travel had been limited to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, but Canada's testing requirement for people returning could make travel too hard for some even after the border reopening

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Americans who live near the border with Canada likely noticed another step Monday in the long economic and social recovery from COVID-19: the U.S. land border with Canada reopening to non-essential travel.

“This is my happy place,” said Tonya Dickenson of Montreal of Vermont, where she has a second home on Lake Champlain. “I haven’t been able to come here for two years, basically.”

The U.S. had limited tourist travel from Canada throughout the pandemic to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. But now, the border is back open to fully vaccinated leisure travelers from Canada.

“We’ve been waiting and waiting and every month it’s, you know, ‘Maybe next month, maybe next month,’” Dickenson said. “And then finally they said Nov. 8, which was a Monday, and I said, ‘I don’t care, I’m crossing.’”

The tourism and airline industries are looking forward to a flood of international visitors as the U.S. reopens its borders to vaccinated travelers. But what does the new policy mean for you and your holiday travels? Business Insider reporter Tom Pallini joined LX News Now to break it down.

Before travelers from Canada return north, they’ll need a fresh negative COVID test — and not one of the rapid ones. 

More information on policies for vaccinated travelers entering Canada can be found here.

Dickenson said she plans to get her test free from one of Vermont’s state-run test sites.

However, for others, their travel plans or the turnaround time of 48 or so hours may make finding their test more of a challenge.

“There’s a lot of families that just don’t have the financial means to cross the border by land,” said Marcella Picone of the lobbying group Families Are Essential.

The land border with Canada fully reopens to leisure travelers on Monday, and in Vermont, residents are excited to welcome visitors.

Picone, who lives in Buffalo, New York, is engaged to a man living in Canada. 

Families Are Essential labels Canada’s testing requirements too onerous, and wants to see them dropped.

“Grandparents are not going to spend that money to come see their grandkids for a day. That’s costly,” Picone said. “If you’re a family of four, you’re looking for $800 just for a day trip or a weekend trip.”

Vermont’s Jay Peak Resort sits close to Canada and expected a slow start to the land border reopening because of the Canadian testing rules. Still, the destination is confident visits will pick up quickly, for the ski and ride season.

“The Canadian market is absolutely critical to our long-term success,” said J.J. Toland of Jay Peak Resort. “We’ve seen strong demand from the Canadian side, both on the season’s pass front and they’re booking into the holiday windows.”

Tonya Dickenson said she is deeply grateful to finally be able to travel south again, and is already planning another trip here for Christmas. 

“Vermont, for me, is such a breath of fresh air,” the second homeowner said.

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