Mandatory PCR test remains barrier for travellers as U.S. reopens borders to Canada
On Nov. 8, the land and sea borders will open up again for Canadians wanting to visit the U.S. The question is, will anyone make the trip?
"We’d love to go back down," said Vancouver Island resident Harry Little.
But, there’s a catch.
"It’s probably going to be easy to get down but coming back is going to be the problem," said Little. "If it’s going to be really difficult we won’t be doing any travelling."
The fact that Canada will still require proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of re-entry into the country is a common concern. That COVID-19 test starts at $129 and increases in price, depending on how fast you need the results.
"You don’t want to pay an extra $150 for a shopping trip or something like that, you know what I mean?” said islander Duncan Rumak.
"It’s basically the reason we decided not to do our annual trip," said Ben Rumak.
That test has the Black Ball Ferry Line, which operates the Coho Ferry between Victoria and Port Angeles, questioning if it’s even worth starting up again.
"It’s a difficult thing, no doubt about it," said Ryan Burles, president of the Black Ball Ferry Line.
"We don’t know whether the PCR is here to stay for two months or six months," he said. "That’s a big hurdle."
Burles knows there will be demand from snowbirds wanting to head south for the winter. But that business is not enough to sustain the operating costs of the ferry.
The company said on Friday that it is going to take the weekend to decide if it’s worth starting up again.
South of the border in Port Angeles, Washington, excitement is high, but locals know they’re not going to see many Canadian visitors until the Coho Ferry begins to run again. So expectations are tempered for now until that PCR test is gone from the equation.
"Once that PCR test is gone, I think we’re going to see a true opening of the border," said Marc Abshire, executive director of the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
The mayor of Port Angeles agrees.
"It sounds like one of the big issues on the Canadian side is also the PCR," said Kate Dexter, Mayor of Port Angeles. "So, yes, if the Coho’s running it means there’s no PCR test likely and so I’m hopeful that we will see Canadians."
As a bit of a loophole, Canadians could get tested in Canada and if they are returning within 72 hours, they could use those results to get back into the country.
One last big question was cleared up on Friday evening, when U.S. officials confirmed that Canadians who received mixed vaccine doses would be considered fully vaccinated.
So come Nov. 8, many Canadians may just decide to stay home until crossing the border becomes less cumbersome and less expensive.
"It isn’t worth the hassle," said Judy Little. "We’ll wait until they straighten it all out. So for now, no."
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