Ready to return to Canada? Border to reopen next month, but U.S. travelers could face hurdles


CLEVELAND, Ohio – Get your passport and poncho ready – it’s time to travel to Canada.

Or maybe you’d rather wait a bit, just to make sure the new process for crossing the border is smooth and easy.

The Canadian government announced Monday that it will welcome vaccinated American travelers to Canada from August 9, for the first time in nearly 17 months.

The news has been greeted with relief and enthusiasm on both sides of the border, as American visitors – including many property owners in Canada – prepare to return.

Even so, it may not be as easy to plan and execute a trip to Canada as it was just two summers ago.

Among the possible complications:

* Border crossings are likely to be congested, at least initially, as authorities deal with new vaccine regulations. To be admitted to Canada, US travelers must be fully immunized at least 14 days prior to entry. American travelers must also test negative for a recent COVID test. Verification of these results should be uploaded to the ArrivalCAN application or web portal on arrival.

* Some transportation companies – including ferry service and air service from Ohio to Pelee Island in Lake Erie – likely won’t resume immediately, and maybe not at all this year.

* The Canadian hospitality industry, like the United States, has faced staffing challenges in recent months as it ramps up to welcome new guests.

Additionally, the U.S. government has yet to say when it will reopen the land border and welcome Canadian travelers, which may discourage some Americans from traveling to Canada.

Despite the challenges and complications, Janice Thomson, President and CEO of Niagara Falls Tourism in Ontario, said their community is ready to welcome Americans again.

His agency responded to numerous calls from impatient Americans wondering when the border would reopen. Now they have an answer.

“People seem to be eager to visit again,” she said. “We expect the visits to return fairly soon.”

In 2019, 4 million of the region’s 14 million visitors came from the United States, she said.

Among the Ohioians most eager to return to Canada: Matthew Abbey of Medina, whose family owns a home on Pelee Island, about 25 miles from the Ohio mainland. He hasn’t been there for almost two years.

“I hate to be too excited about the disappointment so far,” said Abbey, who is frustrated with heads of government in both countries for allowing the border to remain closed for so long.

“Finally, there is a plan,” he said. “Finally, there is a date. “

He expects him, his wife and his one-year-old daughter to try to leave on August 9 or 10, although it won’t be easy.

The ferry that typically runs in the summer between Sandusky and Pelee Island is unlikely to restart this summer, according to a customer service representative from Owen Sound Transportation Company, who manages the ferry.

And Griffing Air Service, which flies from Port Clinton to Pelee Island, has not been cleared to restart the service, the company said.

Abbey said he would likely drive the 200 miles around the lake to Leamington, Ont., And take the ferry from there.

“It will be a bit of a logistical challenge,” Abbey said. “It’s not like Put-in-Bay. You don’t get on a ferry and you are there in 20 minutes.

But the remoteness of Pelée is part of its charm. “It’s kind of normal for the course,” he said. “This is what is worth it.”

Another Clevelander planning his return to Canada is Scott Rosenthal, whose family owns a summer home in Parry Sound, on Ontario’s Georgian Bay.

In fact, Rosenthal, a lawyer for Bainbridge, recently returned from an 18-day trip to the property, apparently in violation of Canada’s current ban on all but essential travel.

Rosenthal and his family were on their way for a planned vacation to upstate New York when they decided to try crossing the border in Buffalo. To his surprise, the Fort Erie border guard allowed him, his wife and two children to enter Canada.

“My lawyers didn’t think we would get there. We didn’t think we’d be able to do it. Nobody thought we would get there, ”he said.

Last summer was only the second summer that Rosenthal, 50, has not visited the property. His family has owned a house in the area for over a century.

“It’s beyond my favorite place in the world,” he said. “That’s why I fought so hard to get there. It is peaceful. It is serene. You unplug. That’s wonderful.”

A view of the water from the Rosenthal Cabin in Parry Sound, Ontario.

It wasn’t so wonderful this time, however. Mice had invaded the house during the family’s two-year absence; the water tank and the water heater both broke from lack of use.

The Rosenthals spent 14 days in quarantine at the property – currently required for both Canadians as well as essential travelers entering the country – then an additional four days doing business in town.

Rosenthal plans to return on Labor Day weekend, but predicts the border crossing process will be long and complicated. He said it took him and his family 45 minutes at the border after going through security to deal with health issues and concerns. And there was no one else waiting.

He wants the Canadian government to let owners in before vacationers, if only to test the entry system with a higher volume of traffic. Even so, he said, he is ready to deal with any complications and delays.

“I’m just happy that I can make it happen,” he said.

Read more:

Canada-U.S. Border closure looks likely for second summer, despite rising vaccination rates

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