BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The U.S.-Canadian border remains closed to non-essential travel. Customs and Border Protection said under current restrictions, a vaccine appointment alone is not an allowance to cross the border.
According to CTV News, some Canadians are confused by the Canadian government's announcement that the vaccine may be considered an essential medical service, and someone crossing the border would be exempt from the country's 14-day quarantine when they return.
Wednesday evening, the Public Health Agency of Canada tells 7 Eyewitness News the quarantine exemption for those traveling for medical services was not intended for those seeking a COVID-19 vaccine.
"The Order In Council provision that outlines testing and quarantine exemptions for travellers returning to Canada after receiving essential medical services a foreign country was not intended to be used for those seeking to receive a COVID-19 vaccination," said a statement from PHAC. "This provision is in place to allow Canadians who are seeking life-saving medical treatment outside of Canada."
Managing Partner of Berardi Immigration at Berardi Immigration Law Rosanna Berardi said Canadians were rightfully confused. Berardi said she believes the announcement was well intentioned, but premature.
“I looked at it as an attempt from the Canadian government to appease their own citizens by saying, ok we’ll let you go to the United States for the purpose of getting the vaccine, unfortunately, they don’t have the authority to make that type of statement,” Berardi said.
PHAC's statement said CBP is responsible for determining if a Canadian citizen is eligible to cross the border, and added it will be clarifying the provision.
"PHAC will be clarifying the intent of this provision imminently including to medical professional associations and on its website," said PHAC's statement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wants three-quarters of Canadians to be fully vaccinated before possibly loosening restrictions.
Many Canadians wait months in between doses, about 46% of Canadians have at least one dose, while about 4% are fully vaccinated.
New York State's vaccine appointment website shows available appointments across the state. On Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins (NY-26) sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling for the state to open unused appointments to Canadians.
“You should be allowed over the border for the sole purpose of getting a vaccine, toward the goal of accelerating the vaccination rate in Canada, which is contributing to keeping the border closed,” Higgins said.
The NYS Dept. of Health said Canadian resident are not eligible to receive the vaccine in New York.
“Getting that vaccine into the arms of as many people as possible in Canada serves the interest of the United States because our economies, our life quality, is so closely integrated," Higgins said.