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COVID-19: Canada tightens border restrictions

The northern county has announced additional testing and quarantine requirements as new variants of COVID emerge.

Canada is expanding its COVID-19 travel restrictions, which is the exact opposite of what northern Minnesota businesses wanted to hear. 

It's been nearly a year since nonessential travelers from the U.S. could freely cross the border into Canada after the border was closed in March 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

And last week, the country announced additional testing and quarantine requirements for international travelers and Canadians who are returning home to Canada to help prevent variants of COVID-19 from reaccelerating the pandemic, making it more difficult to contain.

“I want to thank Canadians who continue to make sacrifices to protect each other from COVID-19. We continue to detect variants of concerns, and this is why we are putting these additional measures in place. Now is not the time to travel, so please cancel any plans you might have," Canada's Minister of Health Patty Hajdu said in a statement. 

The Canadian government continues to "strongly advise" Canadians to cancel or postpone any non-essential travel outside of Canada, and asks foreign nationals to postpone or cancel travel plans to Canada, adding "Now is not the time to travel," a release says.

These new restrictions come a month after some of Minnesota's Congressional leaders joined others who represent northern states to send a letter to President Joe Biden with a plan to reopen the northern border to alleviate uncertainty for those who live near the border. U.S. Reps. Pete Stauber, R-Minn., Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., and Dean Phillips, DFL-Minn., all signed the letter. 

Resorts on Minnesota's Northwest Angle are among those who have been suffering since the border closed last March. They've been hoping border crossing rules would be loosened as they rely on visitors who need to drive through Canada to get there. 

They have gotten creative, though. This winter they built a 30-mile ice road to reconnect the Angle to the rest of the United States. Read more about it here

Details on the new restrictions

Canada already had some of the strictest travel and border measures, including a 14-day mandatory quarantine for everyone returning to the country. But it has now made them even stricter. 

Travelers visiting Canada by land are required to provide proof of a negative COVID test taken in the U.S. within 72 hours before arrival (or a positive test taken 14-90 days prior to arrival). And starting Feb. 22, visitors will have to take a COVID-19 test when they arrive and at the end of their 14-day quarantine.

For those flying to Canada, starting Feb. 22, visitors will have to take a COVID test when they arrive, before even leaving the airport. They'll also have to take another test toward the end of their 14-day quarantine. 

In addition, those flying to Canada will have to stay three nights in a government-approved hotel, which has to be booked prior to arriving in Canada.

Starting Feb. 22, all travelers (land and air) will have to submit their travel and contact information, including a "suitable quarantine plan" electronically via ArriveCAN before they cross the border or board a flight. 

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