Canadians skirt COVID-19 restrictions by going over border as pedestrians

Traveling home from Huatulco, Mexico, Rick and Berni Vernon of Orillia, Ontario, crossed the Rainbow Bridge on foot Wednesday morning to skirt some Canadian quarantine rules. (Joe Genco / staff)

NIAGARA FALLS — If you think it’s been hard dealing with COVID-19 in New York, consider the travails of our friends across the border.

Flying into Canada results in a federally mandated three-day stay in a quarantine hotel that can cost up to $2,000 Canadian per person followed by additional quarantine at home.

Lots of Canadians have been flying to airports in the United States and then walking across the border to avoid the quarantine requirement, according to CBC News, which estimated more than 20,000 such crossings since February.

One such couple, Rick and Berni Vernon of Orillia, Ontario, crossed the Rainbow Bridge on foot Wednesday morning. They were returning home from Huatulco, Mexico, and decided to try the U.S. route after their flight home was canceled three times.

“I think the Canadian government is doing it to punish us,” Rick said. He just retired at the age of 59 from his overhead door company and spent 11 weeks in Mexico with Berni as a post-retirement celebration.

The Vernons left Mexico City at 8 a.m. Tuesday, flying to Atlanta and then Buffalo, and reaching the border about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“The experience traveling has been phenomenal,” Rick said. “Everyone was so nice. Our government and Prime Minister Trudeau has created a crap show to try and punish Canadians who travel.”

Berni said she and Rick were antigen-tested in Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico, then they were tested again in Atlanta and one more time in Buffalo. Once they crossed into Canada, they expected to be tested again before finally making it home and planning to quarantine for the required 14 days.

The Canadian government’s travel website (https://travel.gc.ca) reports a test is required for Canadians eight days after returning home and in the middle of a 14-day quarantine. The U.S.-Canada border has been closed since March 2020 and will remain so through at least May 21.

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