U.S. library overwhelmed by Canadians caught without ArriveCAN app at N.B. land border
Canadian residents arriving at St. Stephen, N.B. land border crossings without registering online beforehand are finding support from an overwhelmed U.S. library.
The Calais Free Library has seen about 40 Canadians ask for assistance in completing an ArriveCAN form since Nov. 30, when PCR testing requirements were eliminated for fully vaccinated residents visiting the U.S. for less than 72 hours.
Part of the requirement for Canadians returning home is to pre-register their arrival with ArriveCAN, or otherwise face a possible 14 day quarantine once back in the country.
The AriveCAN requirement has caught several fully vaccinated Canadians by surprise at the border, including at St. Stephen’s three land crossings.
“Someone is telling them to come to the Calais Free Library and that we’ll help them out,” says Calais Free Library manager Joyce Garland. “We don’t mind, except that it’s taking a lot of our manpower. We don’t have a lot of resources.”
Garland says some of the people looking for help have never owned a smartphone or operated a computer.
“We had an elderly couple in their 90s. All they wanted to do is just come and take a ride, they said ‘like we used to do.’ And they get to the border to go back home and they could not get there. They were pretty upset.”
Garland says library staff have done their best to help, sometimes spending several hours with frustrated Canadians who are trying to get home.
“I feel bad for all of these people, especially when you get a husband and wife and you see the frustration. Generally, it’s the lady, but the tears are starting to come, and the man is getting frustrated and they’re not listening to each other.”
St. Stephen deputy mayor Ghislaine Wheaton has been in contact with the Canada Border Services Agency.
“(CBSA) said they actually helped some of the people to fill them out in getting them across,” she says. “People are still a little bit hesitant about going because there’s been a lot of rules.”
In a prepared written statement to CTV, the Canadian Border Services Agency says it will help travellers “to the extent possible” who arrive without pre-registering on the ArriveCAN app.
The CBSA says travellers without a smartphone or without mobile data can submit their information by signing in online through other computing devices.
Aside from some Canadians being unaware of the ArriveCAN requirement, others have reported malfunctions with the app. The federal government says Canadians will be able to provide information in-person when the ArriveCAN app isn’t working at the border.