Aug. 10 (UPI) — Canada on Monday opened the border it shares with the United States for the first time in more than a year, welcoming U.S. citizens and returning Canadians who have been fully vaccinated.
The border officially was opened after midnight on Sunday. It was the first time vaccinated travelers were allowed to cross the border since shortly after COVID-19 arrived last year.
At the border, all travelers must show proof of vaccination that’s uploaded through a Canadian app, and a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of entry. All U.S. travelers must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before arriving at the border.
Unvaccinated children under 12 traveling with vaccinated parents can skip quarantine if they follow other safety requirements.
For cities like Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, which have long shared tourists, families and workers along the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and Ambassador Bridge, the reopening was a long time coming.
“We were all so eagerly waiting for that day,” Indiana resident Asawari Kaur told the Detroit Free Press. “As soon as it hits midnight, we’re gonna enter the border.”
Cyclist Tom Roeber, who’s on a 1,400-mile bike ride from Minnesota to Maine to raise money for the MS Society, said he will enter Canada at Port Huron, Mich. on Monday as part of his trek.
“I have to find some place before I get to Port Huron where I’m trying to cross to go and get a test somewhere around there,” Roeber told KARE-TV.
Dr. Kelley Lee of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia is among some who believe opening the border is “premature” given the spread and contagious nature of the Delta coronavirus variant. Also of concern is the United States’ lagging vaccine rate compared to Canada.
“With full vaccination, there’s definitely less likelihood of importing the virus, but that likelihood is not zero,” Lee told KARE-TV.
“We do know that people who have been fully vaccinated still carry quite a high viral load — or can — if they get infected, and they can transmit the virus.”
The United States still has not reopened its side of the Canadian border. Last month, it extended the closure until at least Aug. 21.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday added seven nations to its highest risk category for travel.
Aruba, Estwatini, France, French Polynesia, Iceland, Israel and Thailand were placed on the CDC’s “Level 4: COVID-19 very high” indicating they have reported more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.
“Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants,” the agency said.