BUFFALO, N.Y. — As the summer travel season gets underway, many in Western New York are wondering if they'll be allowed to cross the U.S.-Canadian border, which has been shut down to non-essential travel for nearly a year and a half due to the pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • U.S.-Canada border has been shut down to non-essential travel restrictions throughout the pandemic
  • UB doctor thinks fully vaccinated travelers pose low risk if they cross the border
  • Canadian health officials want 75% of eligible residents vaccinated before easing restrictions


"We have to continue to work very hard on the vaccinations and I think the Canadians feel very much the same way," said Dr. Peter Winkelstein, the executive director of the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, says loosening border restrictions could happen if 75% of eligible Canadians become fully vaccinated.

"This is a very cautious approach,” said Dr. Winkelstein. “This is a policy approach that they have to decide how cautious they want to be, and they're certainly being cautious. In my opinion, people who are vaccinated, who are fully vaccinated, are at low risk of either getting serious disease or of spreading the virus.”

He considers it low-risk to open the border to vaccinated travelers. He says it's hard to tell what the herd immunity standard actually is considering the different variants of the virus out there.

"We don't know with COVID what that herd immunity threshold is,” He said. “It very much depends on the virus. We just don't know exactly, but certainly the more people that are immune, the more people who are vaccinated, the better."

One way to get there could be by allowing Canadians to travel across the border into the U.S. to get vaccinated, something Dr. Winkelstein says isn't a bad idea.

"I think it's good for everybody,” he said. “It's a win-win for us to be helping our neighbors.”