The United States has the world's largest number of coronavirus cases, surpassing 1.5 million. Its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, have seen large outbreaks as well, prompting border closures, flight cancellations, and lockdowns throughout the region. Read on for more information about coronavirus-related travel restrictions in North America.
The United States is beginning to reopen gradually on a state-by-state basis with local governments calling the shots. Some states started opening as early as late April. Still, others have active shelter-in-place mandates.
Currently, there are no federal restrictions on domestic travel, but some states are asking tourists to stay away. Others, including Maine and Hawaii, have implemented laws requiring incoming travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days. If you do need or want to travel, be sure to follow all local regulations and guidelines, including any quarantine procedures, social distancing, and face mask requirements. And consider that depending on your destination, many attractions, businesses, and even parks and outdoor recreation areas might be closed or limiting capacity.
The U.S. has gradually been closing its borders to foreign visitors. As of mid-May, foreign nationals from China, most of Europe (including Ireland and the U.K.), and Iran are banned from entering the country. Non-essential travel is also still prohibited between its neighboring countries of Canada and Mexico as of mid-May.
Canada is currently open to citizens, permanent residents, protected persons, persons registered under the Indian Act, and "foreign nationals who are coming for an essential (non-discretionary) purpose." Exceptions will be granted to a select group of people, including immediate family members of Canadian citizens, who must consent to a medical check and provide proof of relationship and travel documents. International flights can fly into four of the country's airports, including Vancouver International Airport and Pearson International Airport. Travel restrictions are expected to be in place through June 30.
All travelers entering Canada must be given a health assessment and undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. Those who do not follow quarantine guidelines are subject to a fine of up to $750,000, six months in jail, or removal.
Within Canada, each province is reopening on its own timeline. Ontario, for example, entered phase one of its three-part reopening plan on May 19, with retail stores, outdoor multi-use fields, and marinas open for business. Meanwhile, Quebec is in the process of lifting checkpoints across regions in stages. Outside of Montreal, retail stores have begun to reopen, and the entire province is permitting all outdoor gatherings (with group sizes capped at 10) starting May 22.
While all airports remain open, all arriving and departing passengers will be subject to health screenings. Non-essential travel between the Mexico-U.S. land border has been restricted through June 22, and travelers may be asked to submit to a temperature check and quarantine within the country. The Mexican government has closed non-essential businesses in most municipalities through May 30 and will initiate a phased economic reopening plan on June 1.
As of April 3, hotels have canceled all reservations, and have been closed to all but essential travelers. Hotels are operating at 15 percent capacity and may require guests to provide a letter from their employer.
Mexican states and municipalities may issue additional restrictions, including curfews and "public gatherings, transportation, business operations, and government operations." Some require residents to wear face masks, and can fine, arrest, or detain those who do not follow regulations. About 300 municipalities have begun easing stay-at-home restrictions.
Government of Ontario. “Reopening Ontario in stages.”
Government of Quebec. “Gradual resumption of activities under the COVID-19-related pause.”
U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico. “Health Alert – Mexico COVID-19 Update.” May 20, 2020