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Fully vaccinated Americans deal with varying border wait times, cross into Canada

According to travelers we spoke to, for the most part, things ran smoothly as fully vaccinated Americans crossed into Canada but there were some slowdowns.

NIAGARA FALLS, ON — This was the day many people have been waiting for -- after 18 months, Canada reopened its side of the border to fully vaccinated Americans for non-essential travel on Monday.

Right when it happened, just after midnight, there was a little bit of a delay getting over the bridges. Eventually, traffic backed up mostly on the Rainbow Bridge, just in delays of over an hour. 

We’ve seen a lot of people from Buffalo crossing over, also people from out of state, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, we’ve also seen some Florida license plates.

Many people tell us they’re going to see family or friends or go to a property that they own.

Jane Jackson of Buffalo and her family, crossed over to visit their cottage four hours away.  

"Worth the wait," she said, "it's been very disappointing, good to be back."

Mark Leverenz of Rochester is going to visit a friend.

REPORTER: Why do you feel like you had to come on the first day of everything? 

"I miss my friend," he said, "I had a bit of anxiety but it ended up being fine it really wasn’t a big deal at all honestly."

Neal, a Massachusetts resident, who was on his way to see family in Toronto wanted to see better preparations on the Canadian side. 

"It would’ve helped if they were a little bit more organized, we’ve been waiting on the bridge for such a long time we are still young, we didn’t need to go use the bathroom, but I was thinking about people on the bridge if somebody wants to go to the bathroom," he said, "We stayed in the hotel so could try and cross as early as possible in the morning."

Harry, who says he used to live in Niagara Falls and now lives in Florida is going to see his daughter.

"I have a place on the lake in Port Colborne and I'm also visiting my daughter who lives there," he said.

Not only do Americans have to be fully vaccinated, but they also need to have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of crossing.

There are numerous places where people can go to get a test, such as urgent care facilities, hospitals, and pharmacies.

The Erie County Health Department has added staff in advance of more demand for COVID tests.

People who plan on crossing the border also have to upload their travel information on Canada's ARRIVECan app or website.

And there is still the possibility of a random COVID test when people get to the border. There are trailers and tents that have been here for months, where people are tested on the spot.

And the hotel layover for air travelers into Canada has also gone away.

A month from now, on September 7, Canada plans to allow all international travelers if they are fully vaccinated.

As far as what there is to do in Ontario, with COVID restrictions still in place, the province has been reopened, but masks are still required in certain places and there are capacity limits depending on where you go.

We have heard from people who do plan on crossing this week or later this month. 

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