U.S. officials are urging Americans to reconsider their travel plans to Canada in their latest guidance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised its COVID-19 alert to a Level 3, the second-highest level in the four-tier system aimed at assessing and managing pandemic risk. Specifically, the CDC is recommending unvaccinated travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Canada.
“Because of the current situation in Canada, all travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” the CDC said in its advisory.
The U.S. State Department also raised its COVID-19 travel advisory for Canada to a “Level 3,” encouraging travelers to “reconsider” their trips.
According to British Columbian news outlet, CHEK, the advisory surprised Canadian tourism and hotel associations by surprise, especially ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend.
The Canadian border has been open to fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. for less than a month after a 16-month closure because of the ongoing pandemic. While U.S. travelers can drive into Canada, U.S. land borders remain closed to Canadians.
Canada plans to open its borders more broadly to international travelers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 on September 7. Allowing U.S. travelers to visit Canada for purposes including tourism is “recognition of our unique bond, especially between border communities,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in July.
The CDC has stopped short of recommending vaccinated travelers avoid Canada. But in separate advisories, the agency recommends both vaccinated and unvaccinated people avoid travel to Switzerland, Azerbaijan, and Estonia. Each of those countries is now under a Level 4 CDC travel advisory due to rising levels of Covid-19 locally.
For vaccinated travelers planning to travel to Canada, the CDC is recommending travelers wear a face mask and self-monitor for COVID-19 systems. Anyone traveling abroad is required to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their return trip to the U.S.
The U.S. State Department also has issued “Do Not Travel” advisories for Puerto Rico, Guam, and countries including Estonia, France, Greece.
Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.