As the holiday season approaches, Canadian citizens worry they will not be able to cross the land border to see their American families.
Natalie Ward, an Ogdensburg native and now Canadian resident, has been waiting 19 months for her husband, Joe Hachem, a Canadian citizen, to reunite with their family and friends.
“We used to go over on average, twice a month,” Ms. Ward said. “Now, I just have to get a COVID test before I come back to Canada which is $150 American, which is not cheap. But I don’t mind that as much because at least I can come and go and visit my family. But for my husband, he would have to do a full day of flying.”
Beginning in November, vaccinated international residents will be permitted to fly into the United States with proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test, but vaccinated Canadians will still not be allowed to cross the land border.
“It’s really impacted how we plan,” Ms. Ward said. “Over the summer, we wanted to go to Ogdensburg to visit family and friends that we haven’t seen in a year and a half. People are having these times where they get to reunite with people, but my husband still can’t do that. Because of this land border closure, he can’t get to do that. Even though we’re fully vaccinated and have done what we can and are happy to wear masks and get tested, he still can’t do that.”
Mr. Hachem’s only option to enter the U.S. would be by air travel — an unrealistic option for his circumstances.
“Canadians are allowed to fly into the U.S. but they can’t drive,” Ms. Ward said. “But Ogdensburg is very remote. If he wants to fly into Ogdensburg, he would have to do a full day of flying and it can cost up to $800 one way. It just doesn’t make sense to us.”
According to the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Canada, the land border restrictions for travel into the United States remain in effect through Oct. 21.
“My husband kept saying the border would open in the summer, but then they didn’t,” Ms. Ward said. “Then we all assumed when Canada would open, so would the United States, but they didn’t. They’re not providing any metrics or information on when it will open. They say they’re following the science but they’re not providing that information.”
Ms. Ward noted people who want to help can do so by calling their state and local representatives to voice their concerns on the border restrictions.
“It just causes unnecessary anxiety and stress,” she said. “There’s no end in sight. We can’t really wait for them to say when it’ll open because it just keeps getting extended. It would really just add to the stress of it, just not being able to spend the holidays with my family or to have to choose between here in Canada with my husband, or to go see my family.”