Persona non Canada: Long-running travel ban keeps Minnesotans from their northern getaways

Paul Walsh, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Outdoors

Chris Causey can only reminisce these days about the walleye fishing, swimming and paddleboarding that he and his St. Paul family are now missing on their 22 acres on a Rainy Lake island, where Canada's summertime twilight lives long and slow into the night.

"I consider it heaven on Earth," Causey said last week. "It's the most beautiful place in the world."

But for months, he and other Minnesotans have been barred from their soul-nurturing Canadian lakeside retreats during the nation's prohibition on American visitors to thwart the spread of coronavirus, and their lament and resignation continue to grow with the passing season.

Canada's ban on discretionary crossings by Americans began March 21 as part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's mission to send the highly contagious virus into further retreat.

It since has been renewed monthly through July 21, with no indication that many members of Congress from Minnesota and other northern states will prevail in lobbying to have it loosened or lifted altogether amid the troubling surge of infections in several parts of the United States. Add to that a recent poll of Canadians showing overwhelming support for telling leisure-seeking Americans: Stay out.

Amid growing media reports that another month will be tacked on, Trudeau said Monday at a news conference that border discussions "are ongoing" with the United States, and "we will have more to say later this week, I'm sure."


Essential crossings along the world's longest border between two nations are allowed for workers such as health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers moving food and medical goods in both directions.

Once upon entry and whether showing symptoms of COVID-19 or not, arrivals must go directly to their destination and quarantine for 14 days. However, someone who crosses on a regular basis for non-discretionary reasons, such a medical worker or truck driver, would likely not be subject to quarantine requirements.

Tourism, recreation and entertainment are deemed nonessential for one nation's citizens to enter the other's country by land, sea, air or rail. And that includes to a vacation home.

"For secondary property, for that kind of travel, it is deemed nonessential," Ariel Delouya, Consul General of Canada in Minneapolis, said Tuesday afternoon. "We understand, obviously, the frustration this causes ... in implementing this policy. It is really about mitigating this disease."


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