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Longer wait times expected at the Canadian border as the U.S. prepares to lift some restrictions on non-essential travel

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Border officials say people will have to be patient as the U.S. reopens its Canadian border crossings to vaccinated travelers next Monday.

Non-essential travel across land borders into the U.S. from Canada has been on hold since March of 2020, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada reopened its land borders in August. Mexico never closed its border.

U.S. restrictions on non-essential travel will be partially eased next Monday. Adults will need to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. Officials say people younger than 18 years old, traveling with a vaccinated adult, are exempt from showing proof of vaccination status to enter the U.S.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, U.S border agency officials stressed, along with their travel documents and proof of vaccination, people hoping to cross land borders into the U.S. will need to pack their patience.

“We know and we expect that there will be wait times as travel increases,” said Matthew Davies, the executive director of admissibility and passenger programs at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “We do expect to have a full complement of staffing to handle this surge.”

Davies admits his agency is still in the process of confirming its own staff is also fully vaccinated.

By one estimate, more than half of the nearly 21 million people who traveled to the United State from Canada in 2019 did so at land borders, like Detroit, Port Huron and Sault Ste. Marie.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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