With the land border between Canada and the United States reopening to non-essential travellers on Monday, North Dakota businesses are getting ready to welcome Manitoba tourists and shoppers with open arms — for the first time in almost two years.
The North Dakota Department of Commerce’s Heather LeMoine told Global News there’s been a notable increase in interest from north of the border leading up to Monday’s reopening.
“We know that there are testing requirements and restrictions and guidance, so we’re continuing to learn and adapt as we get more questions,” she said.
“In the last few weeks, we’ve had a 250 per cent increase in website traffic from Canada. We’ve had a lot of calls and emails, so we know there’s interest, which is super exciting. The largest concern is around the return requirements.”
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) says there are some things Manitobans will need to know before heading over the U.S. border for the first time in a long while.
While you won’t need much more than proof of being fully vaccinated to get into the States, it’s not that simple coming back.
Lisa Laurencelle-Peace, acting director for the CBSA’s prairie region, told 680 CJOB that border officers are ready and waiting to handle an influx of tourists on their way back home from a road trip to the U.S.
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To get back into the country, Canada requires a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to have been administered within 72 hours of the border crossing for all travellers age five and up. A number of other tests, which use nose swabs or saliva samples, will also be accepted.
Travellers may also be randomly selected at the border for COVID-19 testing, which means travellers will have to be ready with a potential quarantine plan if they have to wait before going home.
“Officers are ready to do those verifications — the PCR verifications, the vaccine verifications, and the ArriveCAN app verification,” said Laurencelle-Peace.
“There are quite a few things our officers are going to have to take a look at when you’re returning to Canada.”
Down south, nearly two years of closed borders has wreaked havoc on the North Dakota economy, which relies heavily on tourism from Canada, LeMoine said.
“We watch those border crossing numbers — the passenger numbers — in order to gauge what monthly and annual travel is at points of entry into North Dakota,” she said.
“We’ve seen a 90 per cent decrease in cross-border travel. With the decrease in bus passengers and personal vehicle passengers, it amounts to nearly 700,000 trips, or almost $200 million in lost visitor spending, and that’s a big financial impact in communities across North Dakota.”