Canada might loosen border in early July — but no word yet on ending the recreational travel ban to Alaska

The Signpost Forest in Yukon Territory is an iconic stop for drivers headed to Alaska. (Adam Jones/Wikimedia Commons)

Canada’s federal government is considering how to begin loosening its COVID-19 border restrictions. But it seems likely the ban on letting Americans cross for nonessential travel will continue past June 21, when the current rules expire.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke this week about taking a phased approach.

Phase One doesn’t much help Americans who want to drive to or from Alaska.

The first step, according to the CBC, would apply to Canadian residents returning from travel abroad and to others currently permitted to enter Canada: They would not have to stay in a quarantine hotel, as is required now. The restriction would be lifted for fully vaccinated Canadians, though they would still have to isolate themselves pending COVID test results. Health Minister Patty Hajdu didn’t put an effective date on the change, but said Tuesday officials would be keeping an eye on case numbers and vaccination rates. 

“These metrics are very important as we move toward implementing the changes on the border that we hope to have in place in early July,” she said, in a video address carried by the CBC and other Canadian media.

The CBC reports “details about lifting restrictions for the wider population are still pending.”

Since March of last year, transit travelers heading to or from Alaska have had to prove to Canada’s border guards they have an essential reason for their trip. Drivers have been allowed to travel north only if they can show proof they live, work or attend school in Alaska. They have not been required to quarantine in a hotel, but they’re instructed to take the most direct route, avoid contact with other people and remain in their cars as much as possible. 

Canada has not granted exceptions for vaccinated travelers, but the country’s Phase One rules suggest vaccination status might be a factor when Canada eventually opens the border to nonessential travel.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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