Thousands of Americans are trying to flee to Canada during the coronavirus pandemic as infections in their home country continue to skyrocket.
It comes as the United States set another new record for coronavirus cases, with more than five million people now infected.
US President Donald Trump signed executive orders at the weekend to provide an extra $US400 ($550) per week to the tens of millions thrown out of work during the health crisis – less than the $US600 ($830) per week level passed earlier in the year.
Although the extra cash will help alleviate the financial pressure facing some Americans, it does little to console a nation in mourning.
As of Monday morning, some 162,700 Americans have died from the coronavirus – more than any other country.
Meanwhile in Canada, the coronavirus death rate has been roughly half that of its southern neighbour.
And some Americans are now looking at ways to escape to Canada.
Since March, when the virus began to quickly spread, both the US and Canada moved to close their borders to all non-essential traffic.
The rule has been used by Canadian border patrol to stop Americans from crossing the border in their caravans and RVs as they normally do during summer.
But it turns out many Americans have been exploiting what has become known as the ‘Alaska loophole’.
Instead of admitting they’re trying to sneak into Canada, some travellers have reportedly been telling authorities they’re only passing through on their way to Alaska.
According to police data sourced by Canadian news site Richmond News, nearly 13,000 foreign nationals were turned back from entering Canada between March 22 and July 22.
Of those, 11,321 were US citizens.
Fed up with the influx of American tourists, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has started cracking down.
Under new rules introduced on Friday, in-transit foreign nationals can only enter the country through five designated border crossings in western Canada.
These crossings are Abbotsford-Huntingdon, Kingsgate and Osoyoos, all in British Columbia, as well as Coutts in Alberta and North Portal in Saskatchewan.
Travellers who arrive at other border points will be refused entry.
The #CBSA would like to remind travellers that discretionary (non-essential) travel restrictions between Canada and countries other than U.S. have been extended to August 31, 2020. ➡️ https://t.co/Vz5trqiWth pic.twitter.com/Y3C3hHWiaj
— Canada Border Services Agency (@CanBorder) July 31, 2020
Each traveller will be allowed a “reasonable period of stay” to complete their journey to Alaska, but will be required to take “the most direct route” there, and must avoid all national parks and tourism sites, and will need to report to CBSA officers when they leave the country.
Drivers will also be given a tag for their vehicle “to support compliance,” which will be attached to their rear-view mirror for the duration of their trip, the CBSA said.
The tag will make clear they are transiting through Canada and will include the date by which they must leave the country.