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Coronavirus: Can I cross the U.S.-Canada border to pick up business mail?

Last Updated Jun 4, 2020 at 2:18 pm PDT

FILE -- The Canadian and American flags are seen on top of the Peace Arch is at the Canada/USA border in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan
Summary

Picking up mail is not generally considered essential travel, U.S. says

Canadians can present themselves to border with evidence for why they should be able to cross

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Question:

Brent asked: “My wife and I have a small business. We import/export goods to and from Canada and the United States. Some of our suppliers only ship to U.S. post offices. We have a property in the US that we stay at while waiting for shipments.

“With the border closed would we be exempt or considered essential for the purposes of continuing our business?”

Answer:

The U.S.-Canada border has been closed to all non-essential travel since March.

While some work-related travel has been deemed essential by both the U.S. and Canada, it’s not clear whether Brent would be allowed to cross.

“Travel for the sole purpose of collecting mail is not deemed essential under the temporary travel restrictions, however, if additional circumstances make the travel essential, the traveller may be admissible into the United States,” Jason Givens, a U.S. Customs and Border Control spokesperson, wrote in an email.

“The traveller needs to present themselves for inspection and provide as much supporting evidence as possible. Only then can a determination be made.”

The ban on non-essential border crossings is set to expire on May 21, but B.C. health officials have urged the federal government to extend it.

On Monday, B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said she “had concerns” about the potential for the border to re-open as early as May 21.

But, she said, it might be time to loosen some restrictions to allow separated families to reunite.

“I know it has been very hard on some families who have members on either side of the border, but a broad re-opening of the borders is not in our best interest in the coming weeks,” Henry said.

Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said he is pushing his federal counterparts, who have jurisdiction over border controls, to extend the ban on non-essential travel.

The federal government has yet to announce whether it will extend the closure.

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