The border is open, but with a catch
By Craig Allan, Business Manager
If Americans don’t need a test to get back into their own country, then Canadians shouldn’t either.
After over a year and a half, the border between Canada and the United States will finally be opened on November 6. It has been acceptable for a while now to travel by plane into the States, but land border crossings have been closed since the pandemic began. The ability to cross the border by car will no doubt be a relief for people who enjoy going down to Seattle to see events, including the new NHL team, the Seattle Kraken. The reopening will also be good for people who frequently travel to Bellingham to go to Costco and other US establishments. However, travelling down to the States will have an unfortunate expense that lingers from the pandemic: showing a clean bill of health via a rapid COVID-19 test before being permitted to re-enter the country regardless of a person’s vaccine status.
These rapid tests are not cheap. They cost between $50 and $150, plus you have to get them before you come back into the country. As for travelling into America, a rapid test will not be necessary if they are driving across the border (plane flights will still require one though). When the question was brought up to deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland regarding if Canadians must get a negative rapid test before returning to Canada, Freeland responded with “The rules are the rules, and people are expected to follow the rules.”
To get the story of what it is like to try and get these tests, I spoke to my brother, Keith Allan. He and his girlfriend went to San Francisco and Las Vegas earlier this month and had to get the tests at home and on the way back from Vegas. In total, my brother had to spend over $600 just on the testing alone.
As I mentioned before the tests cost anything between $50 to $150 during the return trip, but as my brother informed me, that is only if you get them at a drug store like a Walgreens. Unfortunately, Walgreens is very backed up when it comes to testing. “Some of the Walgreens say they are so backed up that you would only get your results in a week.” That would be too long for him to wait, and because border officials only accept the rapid test no older than 72 hours, it would not work to get back into the country.
He also informed me that he has heard of people getting around the cost by faking symptoms to get a rapid test in Canada. That way they can travel down to the States while the test results are negative and use that test to get back in. With these kinds of loopholes, Allan says “What’s the point of still having these tests?”
When asked if he would travel down to the States again under the current situation, Allan said “We might as well just wait it out [until the tests are done…] Unless you have to go down or it’s a big vacation or something, you might as well just wait for the new year.”
With border towns hungry for tourists, these restrictions add another layer of trouble for those itching to get back home. The point of the border is that it is simple and free to cross. The addition of a negative COVID-19 test just adds an unnecessary expense to many Canadians travel plans. If Americans don’t need a test to get back into their own country, then Canadians shouldn’t either. There is taking precautions, but there is also overkill. I, like my brother, believe that this is an example of overkill.