The Canada-U.S. border is closed, but Americans are still coming through. Here’s how.

By | June 11, 2020

CALGARY — While much of the tourist traffic in Canada’s mountain parks has dropped off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some Albertans visiting Banff have noticed some of our southern neighbours in the area.

One of the instances, posted on Facebook last week, reported a family from Texas dining at one of the restaurants in the community.

According to the post, the visitors said they had told Canadian border agents that they were continuing on to Alaska and that was enough to let them in.

“They are now wandering around Banff, no masks, no distancing, no 14-day quarantine. There was also another similar incident same loophole used for another group of visitors from Seattle,” the post reads. “This is more than alarming!”

When asked about the situation, the Canada Border Services Agency told CTV News that “healthy, non-symptomatic foreign nationals” are allowed to drive through Canada for “non-discretionary purposes,” including going to Alaska.

“Transiting travellers will be asked to limit stops along the way and practice social distancing when making essential stops (i.e. facilities use),” said Ashley Lemire, media relations manager with the CBSA in an email. “As per the handout provided upon entry into Canada, travellers should use a drive-thru to stop for food and pay for gas at the pump whenever possible. Additionally, for any period of time in which they are not travelling, for example, if required to spend the night in a hotel, then travellers are required to quarantine.”

Lemire says she can’t speak to any specific situation or interactions with any CBSA officers, but states the agency is committed to limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

“To protect Canadians and to ease the potential burden non-essential travellers could place on our health care system and its frontline workers, the CBSA has implemented travel restrictions across all ports of entry in all modes of transportation – land, sea, air and rail. All travel of an optional or discretionary nature, including tourism and recreation, is covered by these measures.”

The restriction on all non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. border is in place until at least June 21.

Full details can be found on the Government of Canada’s website.

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