Canada To Keep US Border Closed

But only to “non-essential” traffic. The latest signalling from Canada’s Minister of Public Safety indicates that we won’t be returning to the United States anytime soon.

From Reuters:

Canada will maintain restrictions on non-essential travel with the United States until the coronavirus outbreak in both nations is much less serious, a senior government official said on Friday.

The comments by Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair suggest that the ban on non-essential travel could stay for months to come, given spiking cases of COVID-19.

The measures, first imposed in March, are due to expire on Oct 21. They do not affect trade.

Blair told reporters that Canada would keep the restrictions in place “until the conditions on both sides of the border … change very substantively, until we can be assured based on the advice we receive from our public health officials” that the measures could be lifted safely.

Our public health officials would like to re-impose shutdowns, limit citizen movement to “essential” travel only, and prohibit social gatherings. The big debate in our province right now is whether we can get together with family and friends over Thanksgiving.

“It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while announcing that British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec are in the second wave of COVID-19 on Sept. 23. But he suggested Christmas might still be on the table if we rein in gatherings for now. A day later, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé told Quebecers to cancel Thanksgiving plans.

Officials and medical experts have been emphasizing that the large, extended family gatherings with family members from all over are not a good idea this year.

Christmas might still be on the table? My goodness what a statement to make to the public.

We know of one couple that will circumvent the Canada/US border rules and head south this winter. They have hired a commercial service to drive their rig across the border. They will fly down to collect their rig and then drive it to their winter destination.

It angers me to no end that our government has imposed restrictions on social gatherings, physical distancing and travel. And yet it angers me more that people can exploit loopholes and backdoors to circumvent those restrictions.

In another three weeks we move out of our coach and back into a house.

It really is the last thing I want to do and I am quite upset about it.

Canadian Snowbirds Update

No surprise here.

Recently, Canada and the United States agreed to extend the land border restriction on all non-essential travel until October 21, 2020. This means that travel for tourism purposes will not be permitted at any land border crossing until at least October 21, 2020, but we anticipate this closure may well extend into 2021. While the Canadian Government will consider certain travel applications, on humanitarian grounds, on a case-by-case basis, the U.S. Government will not be considering such applications at this time. The CSA remains in constant communication with government officials and border agencies in both Canada and the U.S. to ensure that the concerns of our members are heard during these trying times.

While leisure travel to the United States by vehicle continues to be restricted, Canadian citizens are still able to travel to the U.S. by air.

And from snowbirdavisor.ca.

On September 18, 2020, Canada and the United States agreed to extend the land border closure through October 21, 2020. It is possible that the current land border travel restrictions may be extended on or prior to October 21 for one or more additional 30 periods or some other length of time, and there is currently no clear indication as to when land border travel restrictions may end.

A temporary 30-day measure from March of 2020 appears to be locked in now. The border closure may continue for years. Except, oddly, if you decide to fly.

We know of several snowbirds that will fly to their winter homes and stay in COVID-19 lockdown south where it is warm.

Other snowbirds are attempting to influence the government.

Some snowbirds are campaigning for authorities to open up the land border to people who live in the U.S. seasonally. Neither Global Affairs Canada nor U.S. Customs and Border Protection directly addressed questions about whether such exceptions were under consideration.

I’ve resigned myself to spending the winter in Canada.

Time to buy a winter coat, winter boots, winter gloves and a winter toque.

It’s going to be a long, cold season.

Hopeless

This pandemic could go on for years. That is the message being communicated by our government and our public health officials. And it is also being played out in the media with scenarios like this one from Nature:

June 2021. The world has been in pandemic mode for a year and a half. The virus continues to spread at a slow burn; intermittent lockdowns are the new normal. An approved vaccine offers six months of protection, but international deal-making has slowed its distribution. An estimated 250 million people have been infected worldwide, and 1.75 million are dead.

Talk of a second wave is making the headlines in our mainstream media, preparing Canadians for more restrictions and shutdowns:

Hope for a return to normal is being deliberately quashed by government and public health officials. There is no hope for a return to normal in the short term.

It won’t happen this year.

It may not happen next year.

The word started spreading last month:

“We’re planning, as a public health community, that we’re going to have to manage this pandemic certainly over the next year, but certainly it may be planning for the longer term on the next two to three years during which the vaccine may play a role. But we don’t know yet,” Tam [Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer] told reporters on Tuesday.

“People might think that if we get a vaccine then everything goes back to normal the way it was before. That’s not the case… All of the measures we’ve put in place now will still have to continue with the new reality for quite some time,” Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said.

“Certainly I think that we need to temper people’s expectations, thinking that the vaccines can be that silver bullet that will take care of everything, and everything we’ve done up to now won’t be necessary in the future,” said Njoo.

Will there be an endemic or just a constant pandemic, ebbing and flowing in waves, resulting in the continued suspension of civil liberties and continued restrictions on social gatherings.

It is within this context that we have made the decision to remain in Canada for the winter. We had little choice. The Canada/US border is closed to all non-essential land travel and it will likely remain closed for quite some time.

In our park, there is talk about how to bypass the restriction on non-essential land travel. A number of followers of this blog have written to me suggesting a similar approach.

The idea is to recruit a friend or to hire a driver to take our coach across the border. Given that there are no restrictions on air travel, we would simply book a one-way flight into the United States, collect our coach, and make our way south.

There are so many things wrong about this tactic and I will cover a few of them here.

The first one is our responsibility as Canadian citizens. Bypassing the land border closure is civil disobedience, a deliberate attempt to circumvent the laws of the land. The land border is closed to non-essential travel because of a public health emergency. Here are the exact words:

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States and Canada are temporarily restricting all non-essential travel across its borders… “Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.

I do not have to agree with the closure but acting on a loophole to cross the border in defiance of the law is an act of civil disobedience.

The second one is risk and reward. Many Canadians remain unaware of the Entry/Exit agreement between the United States and Canada to exchange data on travellers.

Entry and exit information is used by the CBSA [Canada Border Services Agency] to establish reliable and accurate travel history information on all travellers. This enables the Agency to better administer and enforce Canada’s immigration and customs laws where a traveller’s presence or absence from Canada is relevant and necessary to:

  • Identify individuals who do not leave Canada at the end of their period of authorized stay
  • Focus immigration enforcement activities on persons believed to still be in Canada; and
  • Respond to the departure, or intended departure, of high risk persons or goods who may pose a risk to the national security or public safety of Canada

The CBSA discloses entry and exit information we collect in accordance with legislative authorities to:

  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the administration and enforcement of immigration and citizenship programs
  • the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) for law enforcement purposes
  • Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) for the administration of the Employment Insurance and Old Age Security programs
  • the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the administration of Canada’s child and family benefit programs
  • Canadian entry data collected at land ports of entry is shared with the US to create an exit record.

The US uses its exit records:

  • to manage its border
  • to verify the travel date, or
  • for any other lawful purpose consistent with its domestic law

The Canadian government will know that our coach was driven across the border, that we took a flight across the border and, upon our return in our coach, that we made a clear and obvious action to circumvent the ban on non-essential travel across the land border.

Some may want to take a chance with Canada customs but really, in the context of this pandemic, with the threat of fines for civil disobedience on something as basic as not wearing a mask, I would not want to have the discussion at the border about why I thought that the ban on non-essential travel across a land border did not apply to me.

Depending on the customs officer, it might result in a ban on future travel into the United States particularly if our traveller’s file was flagged with intent to avoid border control protocols.

As badly as we would like to travel south this winter in our coach, we will do it legally.

A Canadian Winter

Stuck north of a closed border, Canada’s full-time RVers are facing an unfamiliar foe: the Canadian winter.

This from one of Canada’s major dailies:

When Wendy Wood and her family left their comfortable life in Burlington to travel the continent in an RV nearly four years ago, they were hoping to find freedom on the open road. But that road is feeling less free these days, thanks to COVID-19.

Like many other Canadian “full-time RVers” who live in their recreational vehicles year-round, Wood, her husband, and their three kids usually drive south to the U.S. after Thanksgiving when temperatures plunge and campsites in Canada close for the winter. But that’s not possible in 2020 because of the pandemic-enforced closure of the land border with the U.S., and now thousands of RV-dwelling snowbirds are trapped in Canada and struggling to make alternate plans.

The RVers’ annual migration south is about more than sun-seeking — toughing out the Canadian cold in a mobile home or trailer can be unsafe. On-board water and sewage systems are at risk of freezing if they are not winterized, and most recreational vehicles aren’t warm enough to live in during sub-zero temperatures.

The Canada-U.S. land border was closed to non-essential travel in March, and the shutdown has been extended every month since. It’s currently set to expire on Sept. 21, but it’s likely to be extended again as the U.S. struggles to get the pandemic under control. As of this week, more than six million Americans have been infected and 190,000 have died — far more than in Canada, even adjusting for population.

Shane Devenish, executive director of the Canadian Camping and RV Council, said there are at least 50,000 Canadian full-time RVers who usually spend the winter in the U.S. and are now facing winter north of the border, many of them older retirees who could be especially vulnerable.

The number of Canadians that travel south for the winter is significantly higher. Full-time RVers are not the only ones that will be facing a Canadian winter this year.

The Letter

I am so upset right now. So upset.

Greetings from Canada.

Lorraine and I are so very sad and disappointed that the Canada/US border continues to remain closed to non-essential travel by land. Until the border reopens, we are unable to cross into the United States with our motorcoach.

The current “temporary” border closure measures have been extended every month since they first took hold in March. There is currently no plan from the Canadian government to reopen the border and we expect, although we do not know, that the border will remain closed indefinitely due to the consistently high level of COVID-19 cases being reported in the United States.

As you can imagine it has made our planning as full-time RVers exceptionally challenging. We have to leave our site here in Canada on October 25th. Ordinarily we would be looking forward, with great enthusiasm, to returning to our beautiful home away from home, Myakka River Motorcoach Resort.

Not this year.

Unfortunately we have little choice but to make alternate arrangements to remain in Canada because of the border closure.

Lorraine has already reached out to explain our situation and this note confirms that we cannot commit to our site this year. We do not know when we might be allowed to once more travel into the United States by land.

We have made arrangements to rent an executive house in Canada on a month-to-month basis and our coach will be in storage on a month-to-month basis. Should the border reopen and, weather permitting, we can travel south, we fully intend to do so. Unfortunately we do not know when that might be and, should the border reopen, we will be in touch to see if we might find a spot with Myakka later in the winter/spring.

Best wishes to everyone at Myakka. Keep safe and healthy.

We will dearly miss you!

Richard and Lorraine