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Canada ends U.S. travel exemption for B.C. residents in need of essential supplies after flood

Click to play video: 'Confusion over U.S. border rules for essential services' Confusion over U.S. border rules for essential services
Some British Columbians who crossed into the U.S. found themselves handed hefty fines, even though they travelled for essential services. U.S. Immigration Lawyer Len Saunders explains what's behind the disconnect. – Nov 23, 2021

Canada is ending a temporary exemption to COVID-19 entry and exit requirements extended to British Columbians in need of essential supplies after last year’s floods.

Beginning Jan. 31, residents who want to travel to the U.S. by land to pick up goods will be required to fulfill all of Canada’s pre-entry, arrival, testing and quarantine rules.

The exemption was first announced on Nov. 21, 2021, as critical infrastructure damage from flooding and landslides hampered the flow of goods and services, including food and gas.

Read more: Ottawa clarifies COVID-19 travel exemption on B.C.-U.S. border during floods

At the time, the federal government said fully-vaccinated British Columbians in flood-impacted areas could cross the U.S. border by land to obtain essential supplies without a negative COVID-19 test, provided their travel did not exceed 24 hours.

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The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) was instructed to waive travel requirements and allow them to pass on a case-by-case basis.

Click to play video: 'U.S. to reopen  land border to fully vaccinated Canadians' U.S. to reopen land border to fully vaccinated Canadians
U.S. to reopen land border to fully vaccinated Canadians – Oct 13, 2021

At the end of this month, B.C. travellers to the U.S. will be required to take a pre-entry COVID-19 molecular test in the U.S. before arriving in Canada, regardless of how long they were away.

That test must be performed within 72 hours of arrival at the Canadian land border. Rapid antigen tests are not accepted.

All travellers must continue to submit their mandatory information in ArriveCAN. Quarantine is not required for fully-vaccinated travellers returning to Canada from the U.S. if they are not symptomatic and have tested negative for the virus.

The federal government is still urging Canadians to travel for essential reasons only.

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