Klobuchar, MN Business Owner Celebrate Border Reopening, But New Requirements for Canadians Dampen Full Economic Rebound Stateside

Canadians visiting must complete a negative covid-19 test, regardless of their vaccination status to return home, and they have to pay for the test themselves here in the states.

DULUTH, Minn.- The U.S. has fully reopened its borders with Canada, after almost 20 months closed due to the pandemic. But some border businesses in Minnesota are still feeling like the door isn’t fully open as some Canadians are still hesitant to travel — knowing they face testing requirements to return home.

“Our biggest trading partner, one of our best friends in the world is Canada,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D). “No one knows it better than Northern Minnesota.”

Sen. Klobuchar said she’s feeling relieved after the Biden Administration Monday eased travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers from Mexico, most of Europe, and of course Canada.

This has allowed family members to reconnect with loved ones. “Such a big game-changer,” the Senator said.

“We’ve had the hardest cases of people who’ve had a relative who had cancer or who was in the hospital and they weren’t even able to visit,” she said. “We need to change that.”

Gov. Tim Walz has even joined in the celebration, proclaiming Monday “Canadian Travelers Day,” to recognize Canadian travelers’ contributions to Minnesota’s economy and culture.

It’s also a good sign to many businesses in border towns who depend on travelers hopping back and forth over the border for their way of life.

“Last year the holiday season without having any Canadians coming down it was a major hit in regards to revenue, in regards to traffic,” said Jaime Spry, General Manager at Ryden’s Border Store in Grand Portage.

According to Sen. Klobuchar, Canadian traffic will also help businesses’ supply chain issues and labor shortages.

“One of the best ways to get at the supply chain is to work with our allies,” she said. “There’s some talk of doing work permits in the bill that we’re considering in the next month.”

“I think that would be really helpful in the northland. We just don’t have enough workers,” said Klobuchar.

But there are rules for our neighbors to the north.

Canadians visiting must complete a negative covid-19 test within 72 hours of their return. For short visits, if the test is more than 72 hours old when they re-enter Canada, they must get a new pre-entry test in the United States, regardless of vaccination status.

In the states, Canadians have to pay for those tests themselves.

“There’s still issues with testing and things in Canada and we’d like to see them lifted, and we’ll work with them on a diplomatic basis to get that done as well,” said the Senator.

But in the meantime, the rules leave businesses like Ryden’s feeling like nothing’s changed. “With these restrictions of returning home, with all of that still in place we’re not seeing near the number that we normally would,” Spry said.

Ryden’s Border Store holds packages of items either not available in Canada or would cost too much to ship over for Canadians to pick up.

Reaching their normal holiday peak depends on restrictions loosening. “Our packages, they will quadruple, triple, whatever when we’re coming into the holiday season in November and early December,” said Spry. “Most years. Right now we’ve seen a small increase.”

So while border businesses like his are happy now, true relief will come with the complete reopening.

“So when these restrictions are gone we’re going to be very busy, which we’re very excited about,” he said. “But we need to see that, we need to see some of those things loosened.”

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