By Russ and Tiña De Maris
It appears that some U.S. citizens claiming to be on the way to Alaska may have been naughty. The Canadian government understands the need to travel through Canada to reach Alaska from the U.S. or vice versa. Their approach has been to allow travelers to enter the country and permit them to take a direct route to the U.S. border, doing what’s required to keep Canadians safe from COVID-19.
Not everyone has been doing what they should. Some are using the Alaska excuse as just a way to get into Canada and sightsee, visit friends, etc. Now Canada has cracked down. At the end of July, new rules went into place to keep folks on the straight-and-narrow.
Entry to Canada to transit to Alaska is now limited ONLY to one of these points of entry: in British Columbia, Abbotsford-Huntingdon, Kingsgate, or Osoyoos; in Alberta, Coutts; and in Saskatchewan, North Portal. Rules apply when in the country, too.
Travelers are allowed only “A reasonable period of stay to carry out the transit.” They must use the most direct route from their entry into the country to their intended point of exit. Side trips are verboten, specifically visits to “national parks, leisure sites and tourism activities.” On the other side of the trip, folks transiting across the country are required to visit the nearest Canadian Port of Entry and confirm their exit.
Big Brother is watching
Helping Canadian officials keep an eye on folks transiting cross-country, they’ve added a new trick. On entering Canada, you’ll get a hang-tag to put on your rear view mirror. Your required exit date will be written on the front of the tag. On “your” side of the tag you’ll find health and safety measures you’ll be required to follow while in country. Included in the list are these items:
- Avoid contact with others while in transit
- Remain in the vehicle as much as possible
- Don’t make any unnecessary stops
- Practice physical distancing at all times
- Pay at the pump if you need gas
- Use a drive-through if you need food
- Wear a suitable mask or face covering while in transit
- Ensure good hygiene practices if you need to use a rest area
No matter the reason for travel, all foreign nationals who have COVID-19 or exhibit any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada. And of course, a few “teeth” are included. “Providing false information to a BSO [Border Services Officer] may lead to consequences such as being denied entry and/or banned from returning to Canada.”
And the wallet-hitter: “Failure to comply with the current border restrictions is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to $750,000 in fines, and/or imprisonment of up to 6 months. If a traveller causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while willfully or recklessly contravening this act or the regulations, they could be liable for up to $1,000,000 in fines, and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years.”
Enjoy your transit.