There are still worries about how many people may be arriving in the country by air, even as Canada and the U.S. move to extend the border closure by another month. Canadians can still fly to the U.S., although they are not permitted to drive to the country for leisure travel. Ambarish Chandra, an associate professor of economics at the University of Toronto, stated that since the start of the pandemic, this has “always been the case.”
On Wednesday, Chandra explained that though there are still restrictions, the government never closed down air travel. He added that people couldn’t just hop on a plane and fly to Canada. After entering, one is asked the aim of a trip, and in principle, he could be turned back and denied. Chandra also said that rather than the mode of transportation, the border measures focus more on restricting the type of travel that is allowed. Essential travel for trade and commerce is still permitted, by land and air, but tourists and cross-border visits remain prohibited.
Nevertheless, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canadian air passengers can still move in the country provided that they have not visited Ireland, the U.K., Brazil, China, Iran, or countries in the Schengen Area for 14 days before. Moreover, passengers may not even have to self-isolate upon arrival, depending on which state they are entering.
Though it is not a requirement unless specified by a state, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that international travellers quarantine. However, permission to fly is not mutual, and Canada prohibits U.S.
visitors, excluding those with immediate family in Canada, from entering the country.
According to Chandra, border limitations apply only to land crossings as these entry points are less challenging to control and monitor. He added that the policy began to halt all non-essential travel, which is much easier to do by land. He said that it is harder to do and requires a lot more planning to do when doing it by air as people cross the border both ways to shop or just to go on short vacations. Besides, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) says many people are still trying to enter Canada from the United States for sightseeing and shopping despite the restrictions. The CBSA said it had turned away more than 18,000 travelers.
Canadians are still required to self-isolate for 14 days as per federal guidelines when they return home from abroad by land or air. Chandra indicated that the border restrictions help enforce this. Additionally, a spokesperson for the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has stated that the federal government has “brought forward significant restrictions at” the Canada-U.S. border and will continue “doing what is necessary to keep Canadians safe.” He said they would continue to assess the best public health information available to them to decide when and how to reopen the border. He further said with the best interest of Canadians as their top priority; the decision would be made in Canada.