By Melinda Munson

After 17 months of separation, Skagwegians can now be reunited with what many consider their big backyard — the Yukon. Aug. 9 marked the opening of the Canadian border to vaccinated U.S citizens and permanent residents after Canada closed to non-essential travel in March 2020 due to COVID-19.

The process to cross into the Yukon has multiple requirements. Travellers must be fully vaccinated, submit travel information electronically on Canada’s official government app, ArriveCAN, within 72 hours prior to arrival in Canada, and provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test, taken within 72 hours. 

Those molecular tests are available at Dahl Memorial Clinic (DMC), which has a total of three machines that meet Canadian requirements. 

Este Fielding, executive director of DMC, said Canadian officials are “strict” about the 72-hour rule. The clinic received reports of Skagwegians being turned away for having tests that were 73 hours old.

“Plan as far ahead as possible,” she advised. 

Patients who call the clinic for COVID-19 tests will have to wait a few days for an appointment to swab their nose. DMC will bill insurance companies, and for the time being, will absorb the remaining cost of any COVID-19 tests.

“We’re testing at capacity,” Fielding said.

Visitors to Canada must show no symptoms of COVID-19, provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination (paper or digital) and have a basic quarantine plan in case of an emergency.

Unvaccinated children under the age of 12 are allowed to travel with their vaccinated parent, but must avoid large group settings.

Those without access to a smartphone can register their travel plans by visiting Print the receipt.

Skagway residents were already planning what they would do once they crossed into the other “Land of the Midnight Sun.”

Joe Torresgrossa booked a dentist appointment in Whitehorse and is looking forward to sushi.

Kaylynn Howard is updating her eyeglass prescription, getting her car serviced and “hitting the fancy cheese store.”

Other Skagwegians are looking forward to hiking, fishing, paddling and just enjoying the drive. 

As of Aug. 6, the Yukon Territory had 54 active COVID-19 cases, according to the Whitehorse Star. The Municipality of Skagway reported 15 COVID-19 cases since July 28.