Reopening of land border gives Americans a chance to reconnect with loved ones

With fully vaccinated Americans now allowed to cross by land into Canada as of Monday, some are taking advantage right away.

But strict rules mean some hopeful travellers are being turned away

Anthony Molle, right, originally from Montreal, and his American wife Amber Van De Genachte, far left, crossed into Canada on Monday, where he was reunited with his parents in Montreal, Lise and Joe Molle. (Submitted by Anthony Molle)

After crossing into Canada, Adele Chabot smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. Having not seen her family in Canada for about two years, she was looking forward to reconnecting.

"It's a good feeling," Chabot said upon arriving in Quebec's Eastern Townships this morning, on her way to Otttawa.

Starting today, American citizens and permanent residents are allowed to cross at a land border, provided they have received all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by Health Canada at least 14 days prior. 

Children under 12, who aren't eligible for a vaccine, are exempt from the requirement.

Americans must also provide a negative COVID-19 test result using the ArriveCAN app or by registering online within 72 hours of their arrival.

Chabot, a U.S. citizen who lives in New Hampshire, said she will be staying in Canada for a week, and her experience at the border was a "good start" to the trip.

The Canada Border Services Agency reported minimal to no wait times at land crossings into Quebec on Monday morning, despite the easing of restrictions.

Adele Chabot was happy that she was allowed to cross into Quebec to see her Canadian family for the first time in two years. (Radio-Canada)

Elsewhere across the country, midday delays at various land crossings ranged from just a few minutes to more than an hour.

However, some travellers were refused for failing to properly submit their information ahead of time or failing to provide a negative test result from the last 72 hours.

Anthony Molle, a Canadian, and his wife, Amber Van De Genachte, an American citizen, crossed on Monday without any problems. They drove from Washington D.C. to Montreal, where his family and friends still live.

Molle summed up his feelings this way: "Excited. Super excited."

American travellers faced short wait times crossing by land into Canada Monday morning, as seen here at the border between Vermont and Stanstead, Que. (Wilson Ring/The Associated Press)

A long time apart

The U.S.-Canada border was closed to nonessential travel in March in attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, putting a strain on relationships spanning the two countries.

Much of Chloe Bordewich and Basheer Amin's relationship has been long-distance, but COVID-19 restrictions kept them apart longer than ever before.

"Being separated like that, with this other level of uncertainty, has really been excruciating," said Bordewich, who lives in Washington, D.C. 

She will be travelling to Montreal to see Amin tomorrow. 

"I'm really excited," she said. "It's hard to believe that Tuesday is finally just around the corner."

Basheer Amin on a video call with his girlfriend Chloe Bordewich, who is currently in Washington, D.C. The two will be reunited in Montreal on Tuesday. (CBC)

Amir, who is originally from Syria and now lives in Montreal, said they are happy to follow the rules, and take comfort in knowing that being fully vaccinated greatly reduces the risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

"It's excitement with also fear, given all the circumstances of course."

Despite pressure from business groups and some politicians, the U.S. side of the Canada-U.S. land border remains closed to non-essential travellers until at least Aug. 21

Air and sea travellers are exempt, though passengers by rail, ferry and pleasure boat are not.

With files from Brigitte Marcoux, Kwabena Oduro, Alison Northcott and The Canadian Press