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Long lines, confusion at St. Stephen, N.B. border as Canada welcomes vaccinated Americans

Click to play video: 'Fully-vaccinated Americans can come to Canada, but it’s complicated' Fully-vaccinated Americans can come to Canada, but it’s complicated
There were long lines at the Canada-U.S. border, with the easing of a non-essential travel ban put in place 17 months ago. Now fully-vaccinated Americans can come to Canada, but as Travis Fortnum tells us, it’s a little more complicated than that. – Aug 9, 2021

There were long lines coming across the Saint Croix River Monday, with a ban on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border eased at midnight.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents can once again drive into St. Stephen, N.B., provided they meet some criteria before they hit the border.

Those travellers need to:

  • Be fully vaccinated.
  • Live in and travel from the U.S.
  • Have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours.
  • Be asymptomatic.
  • Log their travel with the ArriveCAN app.
  • Be admissible under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
  • Be prepared to take another COVID-19 test if asked.

Many Americans showed up Monday having missed a step or two, only to be turned back around after waiting over an hour in line.

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Still, officials are adamant the requirements remain necessary.

“I am not at all worried about the wait time on that side of the border,” says John Williamson, member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest.

“Canadians want to make sure the people coming into Canada who aren’t Canadian aren’t bringing in COVID-19 and the community’s going to stay safe.”

With the focus on the requirement for those crossing to be fully vaccinated, many, like Heather Bridges’ stateside sister, are getting tripped up by the rest of the hoops they have to jump through to get to Canada.

“When you hear or read articles or anything like that it says fully vaccinated Americans are going to be allowed in,” Bridges says.

“Well, no, there’s way more steps than that.”

Read more: Dozens of vehicles with U.S. plates line up at B.C. border as COVID-19 restrictions lifted

It’s been more than 17 months since she’s seen her sister Katie, who was hoping to come across Monday only to have her COVID-19 test take too long to process.

She’ll have to take another and try again later in the week.

Because Katie coming to see her sister and parents is deemed non-essential, she must pay for those COVID-19 tests herself.

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“Over $100 a test every time she wants to visit her family,” her sister says.

Those Americans who are making it through the border say they hope their time in Canada will be worth the time in line.

“Quite a bit longer wait this time,” says Ethan Minton, driving up from Brunswick, Maine, with his daughter for campus tours.

“We’ve been looking forward to looking at some colleges for a year now and finally having the opportunity to come up to Canada to look at some schools is exciting.”

Bridges hopes her sister can be one of those to make it through the border before long.

There is still no word on when the United States might reciprocate this reopening step.

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