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U.S. and Canada border completely open, state leaders celebrate

While it’s an encouraging development, the land border re-opening may not create an immediate economic boom.
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Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 7:32 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – For the first time in nearly 20 months, all lanes between Canada and the U.S. are officially back open.

In the last few months, Canadians could fly from Montreal to Miami, or the Twin Cities, but they couldn’t drive from Thunder Bay to Duluth -- or even Rochester. Monday, that all changed. Monday afternoon, Minn. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar joined by the Consul General of Canada in Minneapolis, Ariel Delouya highlighted the Northern Neighbor partnership.

“Today’s opening of the U.S. Canada land border in all directions for all vaccinated travelers, it brings us one step closer to finding that pre-pandemic normal again,” Delouya said.

Canada is Minnesota’s number one trading partner. Minnesota sells more goods to Canada than China and Mexico combined.

“They spent $175 million in one year here in Minnesota,” Klobuchar said. “...You can imagine what this means, not only to the Twin Cities, but northern Minnesota, and these communities that have been sufferings because of the border closing.”

According to Explore Minnesota Interim Director Leann Kispert, prior to the pandemic, the state saw more than 536,000 overnight Canadian visitors. In 2020, Minnesota saw more than 136,000 overnight Canadian visitors.

While it’s an encouraging development, the land border re-opening may not create an immediate economic boom.

“Given the lack of travel back and forth, you can’t just go two years and come back and think everything will be the same,” Klobuchar said.

Part of that reasoning is because Canada is requiring its citizens to present a negative COVID test upon re-entry, which from Canadians can cost up to $300.

“I think the Canadians should lift it, like what we’ve been doing,” Klobuchar said. “They can still have the vaccination requirement, but look at that testing requirement. So, that’s what I’m going to ask them to do.”

Another issue is staffing shortages, and tourists returning to hurt border businesses.

“We still had healthy tourism, just because Minnesotans were going up North, southern Minnesota as well. But, we could have had more,” Klobuchar said. “I’m still looking at ways to help them. Because some of their businesses got very, very hurt by the border closures.”

In honor of the border opening, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz proclaimed Monday as “Canadian Travelers Day in Minnesota.”

“We have missed seeing our Canadian friends at our hockey games and other events; at our restaurants and breweries; at our museums and theaters; at our hotels, resorts, and campgrounds; at our shops and in our communities,” reads the proclamation issued by Governor Walz. “We welcome Canadians back to Minnesota with open arms as the U.S.-Canada land border reopens today.”

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