NEWS
07/30/2020 17:00 EDT | Updated 07/30/2020 17:13 EDT

Canadian Border Officials Crack Down On Americans Using 'Alaska Loophole'

They’ve officially taken the fun out of road trips and for good reason.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
A woman and baby walk in Peace Arch Historical State Park in the U.S. on the border with Surrey, B.C., on May 17, 2020. This entry point into Canada will be closed to Americans headed to Alaska as of July 31, 2020 as officials enforce stricter rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Americans who absolutely must travel to Alaska through Canada will have to adhere to stricter rules starting Friday. 

No national park pit stops. No hiking. And no detours.

The new orders will also make any outlawed pleasure-seekers easier to spot. The Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) will require Americans to hang a tag on their vehicle’s rear-view mirror as they drive through the country. 

“The front of the tag will make it clear that the travellers are transiting and include the date they must depart Canada,” the CBSA said in a statement. 

And in case they forget we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, the back of the tag will remind them to comply with the Quarantine Act, including isolating for 14 days.

The new conditions come after American travellers reportedly entered Canada for non-essential travel by claiming they were driving to Alaska (aka the “Alaska loophole”). Americans were spotted dining out in Banff, Alta. in June, and the RCMP issued seven tickets to individuals violating the Public Health Act during the pandemic, including six hikers at Lake Louise. 

Watch: Canada vs. America’s COVID-19 response summed up in this photo. Story continues below.  

“These measures are put in place to further reduce the risk of introduction of COVID-19 cases and to minimize the amount of time that in-transit travellers are in Canada,” said the border agency.

The Canada-U.S. border has remained closed to all non-essential travel for four months, restrictions that will remain in place until at least Aug. 21, and may be extended. The border agency reiterated on Tuesday that American citizens are not allowed into Canada to pick up pets, attend parties, fish or hunt, go boating or hiking, or to check or open a cottage. 

Canadian border agents turned away thousands of tourists from the U.S. between March 22 and June 16. 

Just last week, the RCMP arrested a Washington State man who illegally crossed into British Columbia and tried to evade police by floating down the Kettle River for more than two hours.

Americans bound for Alaska will be allowed to enter at one of five designated border crossings — three in B.C., and one each in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Along with those travelling from Alaska, they will be allowed a “reasonable” period of stay to travel the thousands of kilometres through Canada, although the border service didn’t specify how long that will be. 

They’ll be required to take the most direct route and remain in their vehicle as much as possible, avoiding contact with other people, as well as national parks, leisure sites and tourism activities. They should only make necessary stops, and pay at the pump when refuelling, buy food at drive-throughs and wear a mask while in transit. 

Finally, they’ll need to confirm their exit to Alaska with Canadian officials. 

“No matter the reason for travel, all foreign nationals who have COVID-19 or exhibit any signs or symptoms of COVID-19  will not be allowed to enter Canada,” said the statement. 

The CBSA is also reminding travellers that violating the Quarantine Act could lead to fines of up to $750,000 and imprisonment for six months. If a traveller causes “a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm” to another person by not following the act, they could face even greater fines and prison sentences. 

If a person provides false information to border agents, they could be banned from entering Canada. 

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