Coronavirus: Can I cross the U.S.-Canada border to check on my property?

Coronavirus: Can I cross the U.S.-Canada border to check on my property?
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NEWS 1130 is working hard to get you the information you need about the COVID-19 pandemic.

When you have questions, NEWS 1130 Gets Answers.

Question:

Tyler asked: “If we own a property across the U.S. border, is going down to check on it considered essential? If we have absolutely no contact with anyone besides the border agents do we still have to quarantine for 14 days?”

Answer:

Tyler won’t be allowed to cross the border.

“Checking on a property is not considered essential travel,” said Jason Givens, a U.S. Customs and Border Control spokesperson.

The U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel – broadly defined as trips for recreation or tourism – in both directions. The ban is currently slated to expire May 21 but could be extended.

According to the U.S., essential travel includes trips made for medical treatment, school, work, emergency response and the transportation of goods.

The criteria for non-citizens wanting to enter Canada is similar.

“All travel of an optional or discretionary nature, including tourism and recreation, is covered by these measures,” said Rebecca Purdy, a spokesperson for Canada Border Services Agency.

“Some examples of essential travel purposes are: crossing the border for work and study; economic services and supply chains; critical infrastructure support; health (immediate medical care), safety and security; shopping for essential goods such as medication or goods necessary to preserve the health and safety of an individual or family; and other activities at the discretion of the [border services officer],” she said.

“Examples of non-essential travel include but are not limited to: hikes across the border, social events, such as birthday parties, boating across the border, picking up a pet, opening a seasonal residence, immigration services (flagpoling), etc.”

If Tyler did somehow cross the border and then return to Canada he would have to self isolate for 14 days – no matter how few people he came into contact with in the U.S.

He would have to present a self-isolation plan to the border agent.

“As well, travellers require non-medical masks or face coverings upon arrival,” Purdy said. “Travellers can also wear homemade cloth face coverings. Masks or face coverings may be provided upon arrival as appropriate.”

On Monday, B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said she “had concerns” about the potential for the border to re-open as early as May 21.

But, she said, it might be time to loosen some restrictions to allow separated families to reunite.

“I know it has been very hard on some families who have members on either side of the border, but a broad re-opening of the borders is not in our best interest in the coming weeks,” Henry said.

Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said he is pushing his federal counterparts, who have jurisdiction over border controls, to extend the ban on non-essential travel.

The federal government has yet to announce whether it will extend the closure.

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