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Canada to ease testing requirements for short-term visitors to US

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 4:10 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y (WCAX) - Canadians will be able to cross the U.S border by land in just three weeks. It’s a moment many families and businesses have been waiting for more than a year-and-a-half. And now the Canadian government is changing its own rules to make that visit south even easier and cheaper for those travelers.

Eric Tremblay spent six weeks this summer on his boat sailing around Lake Champlain. “It was a great six weeks,” said the Montreal resident. In order to get back home, he needed to get a $125 test in New York and pay out of his own pocket to satisfy Canada’s rules of having a test within 72 hours of crossing the border. “Doing what I did --going for six weeks is going to be a lot easier because you’re spreading the cost over six weeks, and that’s okay.”

After last week’s announcement of the border reopening, Canadians voiced concerns about making day trips to the U.S. and if a $125 test would be worth it. But the Canadian government last week updated its policy. Now Canadians making a short-term trip can get tested in Canada before leaving and do not have to get tested again as long as they return within 72 hours of taking that test. If they do not return within that 72-hour window, they need to get tested in the U.S. before they go home. “They cannot deny you entry, but they can slap you with a $5,000 fine for not having that negative COVID test,” Tremblay said.

Condo Pharmacy in Plattsburgh has a constant stream of customers coming in for tests and say they are prepared to take Canadian travelers. “I think everyone understands that for travel purposes, we are going to test all types of people from all over the world,” said the pharmacy’s Steve Moore.

He says appointments are required to keep staff safe, so travelers need to plan accordingly. Pharmacies are also dealing with a shortage of tests. “We are trying to do everything we can to source tests,” Moore said.

Condo has the ability to run the tests in-house, which likely will guarantee a same-day result if a traveler needs a test to cross

“I know that travel plans change and that can be hard, but if you are looking to travel, get your tests booked in advance so you know there is going to be a supply there for you,” Moore advised.

North Country Chamber of Commerce officials say the average stay of a Canadian visitor in the holiday and winter months is around 48 hours. But in the spring and summer months, when Canadians come to camp or stay at the marinas, longer stays will likely require a test in the U.S. to cross the border.

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