Canadian Hockey Teams Dodge US COVID-19 Testing

Some Canadian hockey teams are creatively avoiding the United States’ COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers, and I can’t blame them, I think.

Canadian sports teams cross border by bus rather than plane

The United States continues to require all inbound international travelers to get tested within one calendar day of landing in the United States. Rapid antigen tests are accepted, and this is required regardless of nationality or vaccination status.

With the Stanley Cup playoffs happening right now, several Canadian hockey teams need to travel to the United States, but they’re not traveling the way you’d expect. You see, the United States only requires COVID-19 testing if you’re arriving in the United States by air, and not if you’re crossing a land border.

So Canadian sports teams are getting creative, and avoiding arriving in the United States by air:

  • The Edmonton Oilers flew from Edmonton to Vancouver, then they took a bus to Washington, and then they flew from there to Los Angeles, to play the Los Angeles Kings
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs took a bus to Buffalo, and then they flew from there to Tampa, to play the Tampa Bay Lighting

This really took a lot of effort, when you think about it. The Oilers could have just flown nonstop from Edmonton to Los Angeles in less than four hours, but instead they took two flights and a bus ride, taking their journey way longer. But I suppose the team thinks that effort is worth it to ensure that nobody has to test, and then potentially can’t play.

It’s time for the US travel testing requirement to end

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (not that anyone cares), but it’s time for the US travel testing requirement to end:

  • The Biden administration promised to follow the science, though would anyone like to take a stab at the science behind requiring testing when arriving in the US by air, but not by car? Bueller?
  • The fact that the only context in which the US requires testing is for travel also doesn’t do a whole lot to follow science, especially as other countries have increasingly lifted these rules; by all means go into a maskless nightclub, but if you’re a vaccinated traveler entering the country, that’s the only time you need to get tested (never mind the fact that a much higher percentage of international travelers are vaccinated than the US population average )
  • Even beyond the lack of effectiveness of the current testing requirement, the bigger issue is simply that the international travel testing industry is a complete money grab, and really shady, as I’ve written about before.

Unfortunately as recently as a few weeks ago, the White House indicated that there were no plans to lift this policy.

Bottom line

With several Canadian hockey teams traveling to the United States for Stanley Cup playoffs, they’re doing everything they can to avoid getting tested. The US only requires COVID-19 testing for international travelers arriving by air, and not for those arriving via land borders.

As a result, teams are crossing the border by bus, and then flying. In the case of The Oilers, they even took two flights and a bus ride, in place of a nonstop flight. Yep, all to avoid a rule that doesn’t really make much sense.

What do you make of the Canadian teams’ strategies for avoiding COVID-19 testing?

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