Oh, Canada, you temptress to the north, with your universal health care and cheese-curd-and-gravy-covered fries. There are so many beautiful spots, from Prince Edward Island to Vancouver Island, and everything (well, most parts) in between, making it a popular spot for American vacationers. And given that it has been dubbed The Summer of the Road Trip and Canada is accessible by motor vehicle, it makes sense that Americans would want to come up and see the crystal clear waters in Banff, or European stand-in Quebec City.
The problem is, Canadians don’t want us there—and rightfully so: their COVID-19 death rate has been roughly half of ours. At this point, it is illegal for American tourists to come to Canada in most cases. And if you think you’ll be able to sneak across the border, think again. As the New York Times reports, some Canadians have taken matters into their own hands to defend their land from our germs, including vandalizing cars with American license plates. So let this serve as another warning: do not attempt to illegally cross the border into Canada.
Back in the Before Times, Canada was the second most popular international vacation destination for Americans, only after Mexico. But the border has been closed since March 31, thwarting many people’s travel plans. There are some folks, though, who just couldn’t stay away.
By July 27, there had been so many reports of intimidation—stemming from standoffs between Canadian residents and American tourists—that the premier of British Columbia held a press conference entitled “Be Calm. Be Kind.” Addressing the damage done to cars with license plates not only from the US, but also from other Canadian provinces, he made a recommendation to legal visitors: “I would suggest, perhaps, public transit. I would suggest that they get their plates changed. I would suggest they ride a bike.”
In short, follow the law and don’t attempt to cross the border into Canada. Don’t pretend like you somehow got lost in upstate New York, or were on your way to Alaska and just driving through. Not only is it a bad (and selfish) move from a public health standpoint (we’re still in a pandemic, after all), if you get caught, you could face up to a $750,000 fine or as many as six months in prison.