Updated Jul 20, 2021 - News

Minnesotans rejoice as Canada readies to open its border

A photo of the Canadian flag flying behind the U.S. flag.

Photo: Joey McLeister/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Canada's decision to fully open the border to vaccinated Americans next month was met with relief from many in Minnesota.

  • "We are ecstatic," Tricia Heibel, president of the International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, told us. "It's the best opening news we've had in over a year now."

Driving the news: The Canadian government announced Monday that it will lift a 14-day quarantine requirement for vaccinated Americans beginning Aug. 9.

Why it matters: The ban on nonessential travel at the border, which took effect in March 2020, caused frustration and financial pain for people and businesses on both sides of the Minnesota-Canada border.

Pre-pandemic, Heibel said residents in International Falls and neighboring Fort Frances, Ontario, regularly crossed back and forth to visit family, compete in sports leagues, shop or go out to dinner and movies.

  • "Our communities are just quite honestly very entwined," she said, adding that many businesses consider both communities in deciding whether to open there. "All facets of our lives on some level have an integration."

By the numbers: Measuring the full financial impact is difficult given that the closure coincided with the pandemic. But some businesses in the resort-heavy Northwest Angle, which is cut off from the rest of the state by the Lake of the Woods, reported revenues dropping by 80% or more last summer.

How it will work: U.S. citizens and permanent residents will have to upload proof of vaccination onto the Canadian government app at least 14 days ahead of their trip, Axios' Ivana Saric reports.

  • Travelers must also show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken prior to their arrival.

Yes, but: Some business owners worry the testing and vaccination restrictions will remain a barrier, holding them back from a full economic recovery, per the Star Tribune.

What to watch: The U.S. hasn't said whether it will lift its land-crossing restrictions for Canadians.

The bottom line: This is good news for border communities — and those who like to visit them.


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