NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — If you think it’s been hard dealing with COVID-19 where you live, consider the travails of our friends across the border.

Flying into Canada results in a federally mandated, three-day stay in a quarantine hotel that can cost more than $1,600 per person, followed by an additional quarantine at home.

Instead, lots of Canadians have been flying to U.S. airports and then walking across the border to avoid the initial quarantine requirement. CBC News estimates more than 20,000 such crossings since February.

One couple, Rick and Berni Vernon of Orillia, Ontario, crossed the Rainbow Bridge linking Niagara Falls, N.Y., with Niagara Falls, Ontario, on foot this past Wednesday morning. They’d traveled from Huatulco, Mexico, and decided to try the U.S. route after their flight home was canceled three times.

“I think the Canadian government is doing it to punish us,” Rick said of the requirements. He just retired at age 59 from his overhead door company and spent 11 weeks in Mexico with Berni as a post-retirement celebration.

The Vernons left Mexico City at 8 a.m. Tuesday, flying to Atlanta and then Buffalo, before reaching the border at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“The experience traveling has been phenomenal,” Rick said. “Everyone was so nice.

“Our government and Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau created a crap show to try and punish Canadians who travel,” he added.

Berni said the couple was antigen-tested in Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico. They were tested again in Atlanta, and one more time in Buffalo.

Once they crossed into Canada, they expected to be tested again before finally making it home and planning to quarantine for the required two weeks.

The Canadian government’s travel website, https://travel.gc.ca, says a test is required for Canadians eight days after returning home and in the middle of a 14-day quarantine.

A surge in COVID-19 case numbers in Canada at the end of May prompted a wave of restrictions, though case numbers have improved over the past two weeks.

The border has been closed since March, 2020 and will remain so through at least May 21.

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