On October 15th Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, said in a TV interview: “The U.S. is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders. We will continue to make sure that Canadian safety is top of mind when we move forward. We see the cases in the United States and elsewhere around the world, and we need to continue to keep these border controls in place.”
Yes, cases are on the rise in Canada and the second wave is largely in the cities in Quebec and Ontario. As you noted Canada is fighting back with renewed restrictions. Cases are also rising in the US. Unfortunately, the US is not fighting back at this time. Although the absolute numbers are larger in the US, cases are rising faster in Canada on a per capita basis. Over the last week an American was about twice as likely to get COVID than a Canadian. Twice is much, much lower than it had been. However, I think the statement by Trudeau indicates that the border will not open until the case load is much lower in the US overall than it is now. As you point out, there are certainly places where you would increase your risk by going to Canada. For example, going from Vermont to Montreal. However for the border to open, I think you’ll have to look at national averages. I expect an official statement extending the closure for another month soon.
Unfortunately, I don’t see the US getting down to the numbers of new cases necessary without a safe and effective vaccine. I think the best case scenario for getting the vaccine, getting people vaccinated and having new cases go down to the desired levels is the end of next summer or the fall. If we put our hopes on herd immunity being developed without a vaccine, I think it will take years and years and many more hundreds of thousands dead.
Fortunately deaths have not been increasing at as fast a rate as infections. The cause for this is unclear to me. Perhaps better treatment, the virus having already killed the most vulnerable or the virus is mutating to a less lethal form. What implications this will have for opening the border is unclear at least in the short term.