US extends border closure to Canada through Aug. 21

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The U.S. on Wednesday again extended the closure of the land border with Canada to nonessential travel through at least Aug. 21, 2021. Government leaders in both countries first announced the border closure on March 21, 2020, and it’s been extended on a near-monthly basis since.

The move come comes just days after Canada announced plans to welcome fully vaccinated Americans on Aug. 9. 

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In January, Canada tightened its requirements for travelers arriving by air. As of Jan. 7, all travelers ages 5 or older must present a negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding any flight entering Canada from another country.

And in February, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that travelers entering via a land border will be required to produce the result of a negative COVID-19 PCR test. People who fail to do so could be fined up to $2,370.

That’s also when Canada extended its ban on cruise ships, though Canada has since said the cruise ban will be lifted in November.

With the phased reopening to international tourists, Canada will welcome fully vaccinated U.S. citizens who received their second dose at least 14 days prior to arrival. Fully vaccinated individuals from other countries will be welcomed in September if the situation doesn’t worsen.

Related: Canada to enforce hotel quarantine for arrivals, ban travel to Mexico and the Caribbean

How the closures affect nonessential travelers

The border is still closed for nonessential travel, but it won’t be for much longer. Fully vaccinated American travelers who were hoping to book a leisurely train ride or plan a road trip for a long weekend in Canada can enter starting Aug. 9.

Banned cruises

In March 2020, when the pandemic first spread across North America, Trudeau announced a ban on cruise ships that has since been extended, making it one of the longest cruise ship bans from any major cruise destination.

In February of 2021, that ban was extended, forbidding cruise ships from stopping at Canadian ports until at least Feb. 28, 2022, exempting smaller vessels that carry fewer than 100 people, including passengers and crew.

On July 15, Canada’s transport minister announced the country would end its ban on cruise ship visits on Nov. 1 — four months ahead of schedule. But cruise fans shouldn’t get too excited about the change.

For the most part, cruises to Canada still won’t resume until April of next year.

As of now, the first Eastern Canada cruise on the schedule for any major line is a 12-night Viking sailing from New York to Toronto starting on April 18, 2022.

Related: When will cruise ships resume sailing? A line-by-line guide

Travel documents

Earlier this month, Canada made the first move in easing restrictions — but only for Canadians. As of July 5, Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can skip a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival in the country. Additionally, those entering by air no longer need to spend their first three days in the country at a government-approved hotel.

All travelers 5 and older must now also present proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test taken with 72 hours of your scheduled departure time to Canada. Without these documents and permissions, you will not be allowed to board your flight.

From Aug. 9, unvaccinated children under 12 will be allowed to enter Canada but must submit their information electronically through ArriveCAN and meet all testing requirements.

Related: When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

With additional reporting by Chris Dong, Katherine Fan, Clint Henderson, Emily McNutt, Victoria M. Walker and Mimi Wright. 

Featured photo by Francis Yap M/Getty Images

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