Michelle Tupman breathed a sigh of relief when she heard the U.S. border would soon reopen to fully vaccinated Canadian travellers.
“My first reaction was just excitement,” said Tupman, vice-president of the Kitchener, Ont.-based Great Canadian Holidays and Coaches, which offers travel by motorcoach through Canada and the U.S.
Prior to the pandemic, Tupman said, her tours ran “constantly” through the southern border, especially during the fall and winter.
“It’s been definitely a big hit [to our business] to have the border closed, and this is going to open up so many more options for our travellers.”
On Tuesday night, senior U.S. officials announced a plan to begin reopening the land borders with Canada and Mexico. They’ve been closed for non-essential travel since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
The reopening is expected to begin in early November, although the exact date has not been released.
The U.S. is also awaiting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about travellers who received mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines or the AstraZeneca vaccine.
That uncertainty has tempered Kelly Brooks’s excitement about the land border reopening.
“I’m still on pins and needles,” said Brooks, who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and a second dose of Moderna.
Brooks, who’s based in Guelph, is chief executive officer and co-founder of Quarter4, an artificial intelligence company. She’s eager to begin travelling to the U.S. more often for business meetings and conferences, but worries her choice to mix the vaccine could leave her shut out of the country while others begin to travel more freely.
Starting in early November, the U.S. will also require foreign air passengers entering the country to be fully vaccinated — though again, it isn’t clear what this will mean for Canadians who’ve had a mix of vaccines.
“I am still on pause for what my plans over the next four to six weeks are,” said Brooks. “There’s still a lot of unanswered questions.”
Maggie Caskanette of Waterloo, Ont., doesn’t believe the border should be open. She used to drive to the U.S. at least once a year to shop, but said she won’t go again any time soon.
“They don’t have enough vaccines given out,” said Caskanette. “They still have states where they they aren’t enforcing masks.”
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland also urged caution ahead of the border reopening.
“I think it’s really important for Canadians to listen closely to the advice from [the Public Health Agency of Canada], from Canadian medical authorities and to just be careful,” she said.
As for Tupman, she can’t wait to get her coaches rolling into the U.S. again, though she expects to start slow, with trips to regions that have high vaccination rates and low numbers of COVID-19 cases.
“We might walk before we run,” she said.