South Asia Fun Tour
December 12,2021

Canadians Crossing US Border by Taxi To Avoid Hotel Quarantine

by Bin Xu

Some Canadians returning home from abroad have devised means of sidestepping Canada’s three-night hotel quarantine regulations, which the government has mandated for all arriving air passengers.

Whether entering Canada by land or air, travelers are required to present proof of negative results from a molecular COVID-19 test taken within the 72 hours prior to their flight’s departure or arrival at a land border. Both traveler types also are tested again upon arrival in Canada, as well as toward the end of their 14-day quarantine.

While land and air travelers are both required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, only those arriving on a plane must spend their first three days in a government-sanctioned hotel at their own expense and with a prior reservation—the cost of which can run around CA$2,000 (US$1,603), according to an earlier statement made by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

So, instead of flying directly to Canada, Canadian residents returning from abroad are arriving at U.S. airports in northern states like New York, and then taking taxis to the border-crossing, Reuters reported. Canadian travel insurance broker Martin Firestone told Reuters that a trip across the border by taxi might cost $200 or $250, compared to the steep rate and inconvenience of having to quarantine at a hotel.

Suddenly, taxi and limousine services in border communities are finding themselves in high and constant demand, following a year of relative quietude. With the U.S.-Canada land border closed to non-essential travel and tourism since last March, struggling taxi operators are welcoming the spike in business.

"They call from six in the morning to 12 at night," John Arnet, general manager of 716 Limousine in Buffalo, New York, commented. "We've had so many requests for border crossings that we're turning them down." He said that his company is now getting more business by driving Canadians home to Ontario than from U.S. clientele.

Some Canadians hire a taxi to take them all the way to their doorsteps, while others just get a ride to the border, where they cross on foot and then hail another taxi on the Canada side to take them home.

Firestone said that snowbirds returning north after wintering in places like Florida are also opting to drive rather than fly home to avoid hotel quarantines. Some secure rides, he said, while others who usually have their cars shipped home are instead driving them north.

However, the evasion tactic hasn’t gone unnoticed. Premiers from Quebec and Ontario, Canada's two most populous provinces, have already called upon the prime minister to take further action at the land border.

  • Bin Xu
  • December 12,2021

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