Travel | August 10, 2020 2:30 pm

Canada Is Sick of Americans Crossing Over During the Pandemic

Some Canadians have even taken to damaging cars with U.S. plates

Emerald Lake in British Columbia, Canada
Canada's Emerald Lake is worth a visit ... after COVID-19.
Bruno Soares/Unsplash

In order to enter Canada as an American right now, you have to either A) be an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen, or B) be traveling for an essential purpose (which is approved as non-discretionary/non-optional by the Canadian government). Even if you qualify, there’s little guarantee that everyday Canadians will care about the reason for your visit.

Against the backdrop of two wildly different responses to the COVID-19 pandemic — the United States has seen 43,000 more deaths from the virus than Canada has seen total cases — Canadians have taken to actually damaging visiting cars with American license plates, sending a resounding, atypically Canadian message: stay the hell out. In late July, the premier of British Columbia, John Horgan, suggested that Americans consider entering Canada via public transport or by bike, and fell short of condemning local behavior, saying: “I can’t tell people how to respond when they see an offshore plate.”

While vigilante-style harassment is never the answer, the frustrations of Canadians are understandable; the country has fought hard to keep its number of cases low, while its neighbor to the south … has not, and that neighbor keeps coming through the front door uninvited. Americans have been crossing illegally into Canada at an alarming rate recently — for summer sightseeing in Banff, to take the long way to Alaska — and while not every Canadian is confronting American drivers, many are certainly reporting plates to the Border Services Agency.

If you’re considering crossing the border, then, consider this first: fines, jail time and even a lifelong country ban are all on the table. Save your big visit for when it’s actually legal to do so, and when a famously hospitable nation is actually ready to grant you hospitality.

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