Canadians are far less welcoming to international travelers amid concerns they could be spreading the novel coronavirus, according to a report from The New York Times published Sunday.
In fact, Canadians are asking Americans to stay on their side of the border until the spike in American cases of COVID-19 has subsided – and they’ll even go so far as to “damage” cars with American license plates parked at tourist attractions, according to the paper.
“The Canadians are actually doing damage to vehicles with United States plates on them,” one reporter says he was warned ahead of a planned trip to see family north of the border.
“As a dual citizen, I was entitled to cross the border, closed to most Americans because of the pandemic. With an octogenarian father in Calgary who had been largely isolated during the stay-at-home orders, I was willing to submit to Canada’s mandatory two-week quarantine in order to visit,” he writes.
“But my friend’s warning proved prescient,” the NYT reporter continues. “Some concerned residents who fear that the virus will be spread to their communities have been taking matters into their own hands, spurring so many reports of intimidation that the premier of British Columbia, John Horgan, reminded angry Canadians to ‘Be Calm. Be Kind’ at a July 27 news conference.”
“With respect to those who have offshore plates and are feeling harassed, I would suggest perhaps public transit. I would suggest that they get their plates changed. I would suggest that they ride a bike,” Hogan said.
The Washington Post reports that it may be more serious than just “intimidation.” The border between the United States and Canada has been officially closed to tourists since March 31, but Canadians want the government to crack down further on illegal border-crossers, many of whom come into the country through unofficial border crossings in the American northeast and through Alaska.
Canadian officials haven’t yet gone that far, but the New York Post reports that Canadian law enforcement is taking special note of individuals who turn off automatic transponders placed in visitors’ cars to track their movements, and are targeting boaters who “go dark.” They’re aided by boating clubs that report incidents of illegal maritime crossings to authorities, per NPR, and by hoteliers who scan their own parking lots for foreign plates.
“Two American boaters have each been fined $738 under Canada’s federal Quarantine Act, including one who was on a whale-watching vessel that crossed the border from Washington,” the New York Post noted. “In total, federal police in Alberta recorded 121 complaints of foreign license plates between July 1 and July 28.”
The news of a crackdown comes just as Canada reports a spike in interest from Americans looking to immigrate, convinced that the Canadian government is handling the coronavirus better than American authorities, per the Associated Press.
Potential new Canadians, though, are warned that Canada’s immigration system is much harder to navigate than many anticipate and that without Canadian family members or skills the Canadian government is actively advertising for, it can take more than ten years to officially relocate.