Canada is considering eliminating the need to use the ArriveCAN app for travelers heading over the border and into their country and we hope they do.
Installation of the ArriveCAN app last year was part of Canada’s efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19 into their country. It was the latest of many border restrictions that were implemented since the beginning of COVID-19 in early 2020.
It applied to American visitors to Canada and Canadians returning to Canada after a visit here.
Visitors to Canada are required to go on the app and input information about their planned trip across the border. Canadian officials wanted to know who was going, how many in your party, where you were going, what was the purpose of the visit and what is your COVID-19 vaccine status.
Border agents presumably would have that information at the ready when you arrive at the gate, which is supposed to make the entry quicker and smoother.
But there have been issues with the app since its inception. Users often complained that it was confusing and would not let you punch in certain information.
Others lamented how when they arrived at the border gate, the app was never mentioned by the border agents and all the same questions on the app were asked in person, making people wonder why the app was necessary in the first place.
Despite the hiccups, we understand the Canadian’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 into their country. The pandemic affected Canada as much as it did us.
For nearly two years we saw cross-border traffic pretty much come to a standstill as only essential service providers were allowed to cross.
The restrictions had a huge impact on the local economy, culture and families.
Restrictions were loosened last year and we saw the return of many Canadian visitors to our region, which was a most welcome sight.
North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said car counts at the Champlain border have now reached 70 percent of their pre-pandemic levels in 2019, but only 50 percent at most other border areas.
Douglas says there is no question that the mandated use of the ArriveCAN app is a large factor in those lower numbers and we have to agree with him.
Now that COVID numbers are on the decline, it is the perfect time to eliminate the app. Clinton County Legislature Chairman Mark Henry (R-Area 3, Chazy) rightfully points out that the old tried and true practice of having border agents vet potential visitors should be more than enough to control COVID.
If case counts spike again, then restrictions can be re-installed, but for now, it doesn’t look like the ArriveCAN app is necessary.
Bringing cross-border traffic back to pre-pandemic levels is critical for our area not only for economic reasons, but as Douglas said, “because it is the bedrock of the entire U.S.-Canada special relationship.”
Eliminating it now would be the perfect time and help to ensure a more robust and vital holiday travel season in both of our countries.