Canada relaxes COVID test requirements for residents returning from short trips to the US

The Fraser Border Crossing in Fraser, B.C. (Mike Swasey/KHNS)

Canadians traveling to the U.S. for trips of three days or less no longer need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to cross back into their home country. The relaxed travel rules started Tuesday.

That’s good news for Whitehorse resident Aimee O’Connor, who said she’s long overdue for a visit to the upper Lynn Canal.

“My partner and I are super excited to go to be able to go to either Skagway or Haines, simply to just be by the water and soak up a little bit of ocean time,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor said she was “pretty excited to hit up the brewpub” in Skagway.

The U.S. border was opened to all vaccinated Canadian travelers in early November. But the Canadian government still required a negative test result for land travel between the two countries.

That made the trip costly for Canadian residents. Each test performed for recreational travel purposes in the Yukon Territory’s capital city of Whitehorse costs over $200 Canadian (about $155 U.S. dollars). For families, that can add up quickly.

Now that the Canadian government has eased the testing requirement for Canadian residents, O’Connor said she’ll visit soon if road conditions allow.

“We’ve been waiting, mostly just for the testing requirements to lift for a quick day trip,” she said. “I would justify it if I wanted to, you know, go to Alaska for more than a few days. But if we just want to go for a quick day trip, it just wasn’t really cost-effective. And it’s a couple more hoops to jump through, right?”

The Klondike Highway has seen hazardous driving conditions and road closures from avalanches over the past couple of weeks. The latest avalanche on the British Columbia side of the border was cleared Monday morning. The road from Whitehorse to Haines has also seen several recent travel advisories.

Still, two local lodges reported an uptick of bookings for this coming weekend, including The White House Inn in Skagway. Owner Chelsey Stone said her guests are excited to come to town to check on their boats and visit Skagway’s restaurants.

“In the wintertime, we go down from nine rooms to five rooms,” said Stone. “And four of those five rooms are booked with Canadians for the weekend.”

The relaxed requirements do not apply to U.S. citizens. Any fully vaccinated Alaskans looking to visit Canada will still need to present a negative molecular COVID-19 test and a completed ArriveCan app to cross the border.

KHNS - Haines

KHNS is our partner station in Haines. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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