The Canada Border Services Agency said it has turned away 7,639 foreign nationals at the Canada-U.S. border of visitors since the COVID-19 travel ban was put in place – visitors that were trying to enter Canada for non-essential purposes, such as sightseeing.
Of the 7,639 people stopped from crossing the border between March 22 and June 16, 6,615 were U.S citizens and 1,024 were citizens of other countries arriving from the U.S.
The reasons for being turned back included tourism/sightseeing, recreation and non-essential shopping.
The non-essential travel ban on all modes of transportation – land, sea, air and rail – is still in place. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the temporary restriction on all optional or discretionary (non-essential) travel at the Canada-U.S. border will be extended until July 21, 2020, for public health reasons.
Travellers to Alaska
The Canada Border Services Agency says people in the United States can travel through Canada to return home to Alaska, but they must comply with the current border restrictions.
The travel ban on all modes of transportation – land, sea, air and rail – is still in place. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the temporary restriction on all optional or discretionary (non-essential) travel at the Canada-U.S. border will be extended until July 21, 2020, for public health reasons.
Examples of non-essential travel include, but are not limited to: hikes across the border, social events, such as birthday parties, boating across the border, picking up a pet, opening a seasonal residence, immigration services (flagpoling), etc.
However, healthy, non-symptomatic foreign nationals, travelling through Canada for non-discretionary purposes, such as to return home to Alaska, can travel through Canada.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said when travellers looking to go from Canada to Alaska arrive at the border, they must give their reason for going to Alaska.
“Only in circumstances where the traveller is considered to be transiting through to Alaska for a non-discretionary purpose will be admitted to Canada,” Judith Gadbois St-Cyr, a spokesperson with the CBSA said in a statement.
“Should an officer have any doubts with regards to the traveller’s intended purpose, the traveller will be required to prove/substantiate their purpose of travel.
Since March 21, when the enhanced border measures were first put in place, only in circumstances where the traveller is considered to be transiting through to Alaska for a non-discretionary purpose (i.e. work or going to a primary residence) will they be admitted to Canada.”
The CBSA said when travellers are admitted, they are given a Public Health Agency of Canada handout that advises travellers to avoid contact with others, while adding they cannot make any unnecessary stops.
Travellers are also advised that they are to:
- Remain in the vehicle as much as possible;
- Avoid staying at a hotel;
- If they need gas, pay at the pump;
- If they need food, use a drive-thru; and
- If they need to use a rest area, use a mask and to be mindful of physical distancing and good hygiene practices.
Individuals looking to go through Canada to Alaska for discretionary or optional purposes are not admitted and subsequently directed back to the U.S., the CBSA said.
According to the CBSA, providing false information to a border services officer (BSO) upon entry to Canada is considered misrepresentation.
If you provide false immigration information or false information about the purpose of your travel, you may be denied entry and/or be banned from returning to Canada, the CBSA said.
Failure to comply with the current non-essential travel ban is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to:
- up to $750,000 in fines, and or
- imprisonment of up to six months
If you cause a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while willfully or recklessly contravening this act or the regulations, you could be liable for:
- up to $1,000,000 in fines, and/or
- imprisonment of up to three years
The CBSA said members of the public should note that there may be a legitimate reason for the presence of a U.S. resident or U.S.-plated vehicle in Canada such as essential workers, immediate family members or individuals going home to Alaska.
Anyone with information on suspicious cross-border activities is asked to call the CBSA Border Watch Line (1-888-502-9060).
To report violations of the Quarantine Act (such as failure to abide by the mandatory 14-day quarantine or isolation upon entry to Canada), the CBSA said people contact the Public Health Agency of Canada or the police agency of jurisdiction.
Too many visitors forces B.C. to shut park on Canada-U.S. boundary
The British Columbia park that straddles the 49th parallel with Washington state will be closed because it’s overwhelmed with visitors using it as a cross-border meeting point.
The government says the Peace Arch Park will be shut Thursday evening to address public safety and traffic concerns after the volume of visitors reached nearly twice the number counted on a peak summer day.
BC Parks says in a statement that it has consulted with RCMP, border officials and local communities to manage the growth with measures such as reducing park hours and installing a gate at the entrance.
It says that it hasn’t addressed the risks associated with the significant increase in visitors from both sides of the border.
The statement says BC Parks understands the importance of unification for families and friends from Canada and the United States, but changes to the Quarantine Act will help.
The federal government is allowing immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents to enter Canada with family members as long as they have no symptoms of COVID-19 and self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.
Travel Down across Canada
Here are some statistics showing traveller movement has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
No measures have been introduced restricting commercial shipments or rendering certain products as non-essential, nor is there any indication of issues with supply chains for essential goods coming to Canada, including food and medical supplies, the CBSA said.
With files from The Canadian Press