Canadians may have a reputation for politeness, but American drivers are being targeted when they visit their northern neighbours and it’s all because of COVID-19.
Vandals have begun targeting cars with US license plates in Canada, keying or otherwise damaging the vehicles and harassing the drivers, according to the New York Times.
The hostility against American drivers (or those perceived as such) has become so prevalent that John Horgan, premier of British Columbia, has advised those driving with US license plates to consider changing them or travel by public transport or bicycle instead.
The vitriol against Americans has spilled over onto some legal residents of Canada who drive cars with US license plates, several of whom have been harassed or had their vehicles damaged too.
The US-Canada land border has been closed to tourists since March 31 to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
That hasn't prevented some Americans from trying to sneak into the country anyway, risking serious fines. So many Americans were violating the cross-country travel rules in recent months that the Canadian government tightened its policies, limiting where foreign nationals can enter the country and how long they can travel through en route to destinations such as Alaska.
Canadians' reluctance to accept American travellers right now is in part due to the stark difference in coronavirus case numbers between nations: the US has reported over five million coronavirus cases while Canada has only 122,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The US's numbers are far worse, too, when accounting for population. Canada has experienced 24.35 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 49.65 in the US.