By now you probably know: Canadians are allowed to enter the US by plane for leisure, but not overland: only the land border is closed. Once again: that doesn’t mean you should fly to the US, but it’s an objective fact that you can. Many have asked us why it is this way, because it’s true that it looks somewhat illogical at first glance.
With today being Election Day in the United States, we thought this was a great time to answer the question… given how political it is.
Why Canadians Are Allowed To Fly To The US
It seems weird that entry is only banned overland, but it isn’t really when you understand that the US has no desire to restrict Canadians from entering.
The short version is hat the US does not want a closed border, but Canada does… so our government has negotiated that the land border be closed. Canada has a say in that, since it is a common and shared border… but restrictions by air are a completely separate topic.
The US vs. Canada
Yes, President Trump certainly has no desire to keep the Canada-USA border closed.
Whether that’s is:
- because of the fact that Canada has a much lower infection rate than the US anyway (although Quebec is currently worse than its 4 neighbouring States in new cases per capita)
- because some Midwestern states key to his reelection are more dependent on transborder activities in general
- because of a desire to show that the economy is starting back up
- because of a complete disregard for the fact that there is a pandemic
… that is all subjective. Make of that what you will.
The objective fact is that Trump wants the border open (his administration has said so on the record).
The Canadian government? Not so much…
Not at all, actually.
Again, we could get into the obvious reasons, like:
- the coronavirus situation over there being much worse overall (some states have a lower rate of new cases per 100,000 than Quebec and Manitoba, but there aren’t many and all other provinces are better)
- polls showing 90% of Canadians want the border to remain closed (politicians will always care about public opinion, for better or for worse)
… that is also subjective.
It is an objective fact that the Trudeau government does not want the border open now, or else it would be open.
Same thing for the Premiers of the 2 most populous provinces:
- François Legault asked Trudeau just last week to close the border until 2021 (although it’s not clear if that was for the US only or also for the other entirely separate entry restriction Canada has for non-American foreigners)
- Doug Ford has said in the past that he does not want the border open
The Canada-US decision
So the land border, being a shared common border, had to be a mutual decision. Canada was able to get that border closed.
Entering by air though has nothing to do with the land border.
Canada can’t force the US not to let Canadians in by plane (and Canada has never banned Canadians from leaving or reentering Canada), and the US has no desire to restrict the entry of Canadians… so Canadians can fly to the US for any reason.
(As long as they haven’t been in the EU, the UK, China, Brazil, or Iran in the past 14 days, which is the only entry restriction the US has ever had by air since the beginning of the pandemic).
Doesn’t mean you should fly to the US, but you can fly to the US.
There are no restrictions, as we’ve explained before. Facts matter, whether or not knowing the facts will increase the amount of people to travel to the US. That’s not a reason to mislead anyone about what is allowed. Also, there are already plenty of reasons not to travel to the US; no need to resort to misinformation.
And you might be wondering why the US doesn’t just open its land border too. That is a valid question. Maybe they are keeping that as leverage to make sure there’s reciprocity and that Americans are also allowed back into Canada when they open, maybe our government is putting enough pressure to keep it closed, maybe there are other considerations… time will tell.
What Impact Will The Election Have
And if you think this 7th extension will be the last one because the US election is in November… keep in mind that win or lose, Trump is President until January 20th.
Some thought we were saying that Trump is the one who wants the border closed. Of course not; we have been monitoring the situation daily for 6 months… we are well aware that Trump is the one who wants the border open.
(Just like we’re well aware of every detail about the pandemic that affects travelers, like when we said very early one that it was ridiculous that some people thought there would never be COVID-19 medical travel insurance, or when we said last week that Canadians are not really banned from entering Europe, and many other myths we have debunked.)
What we’re saying is that many people believed that the US election would have an impact on the border closure, but the fact is that Election Day itself will not have an immediate impact: Trump is President until January 20th.
(It’s another common myth: that the winner takes office right after the election, just like the myth that Election Day is the first Tuesday of November when it’s actually the Tuesday after the first Monday of November.)
Many believe that a President Biden will improve the coronavirus situation and therefore lead to a faster reopening of the Canada-US border. That is not guaranteed, but what is guaranteed is that even if Biden wins, he will only assume office in late January anyway.
Our point was that today’s election is not going to affect the short-term outlook for those who want to travel to the US… you’ll have to do that by plane for a while, if you really do want to go.
As always, we recommend you carefully consider the many risks involved with traveling right now, even for a roadtrip (that Flytrippers guide will soon be updated by the way).
This is not to be taken lightly, and if you do travel, please take every precaution to travel safely and responsibly… as we are doing ourselves.
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Today is Election Day in the US, and whatever happens, Trump will remain President until January 20th. He would like to reopen the Canada-USA border, but our government does not share that desire for now, so…
What do you think of this situation at the border? Tell us in the comments below.
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Featured image: US flag on Merritt Island, Florida (photo credit: Mick Haupt)
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