Sense of normalcy to return for some as Canadian border is set to reopen

NORTH DAKOTA & MINNESOTA (KVRR) — Having restrictions at the Canadian border for nearly two years has had a big impact on places like Greater Grand Forks and Lake of the Woods.

“It’s been a long time,” said Visit Greater Grand Forks Executive Director Julie Rygg.

The border opening is welcomed news to many business owners North of us who’ve been struggling without the usual support of Canadian customers.

“Canadians come to our community, they stay here, they spend money, they shop, they go to our events, and they’re fun guests to have in our community,” Rygg added.

Tourism in the Grand Cities and Lake of the Woods has been hit hard by the border restrictions, with resorts, restaurants and retailers especially struggling.

“Even our home improvement stores,” explained Rygg. “We get people from Manitoba coming down here to purchase lumber and items for home remodels and things like that.”

But commerce isn’t the only thing that’s been impacted.

“In Baudette, we have different sports teams and we have Canadians from our neighboring community, Rainy River. They’ll come down and compete in sports, and that’s really put a damper on some of our sports teams,” said Lake of the Woods Tourism Executive Director Joe Henry.

Rygg added, “We’re very used to seeing those Manitoba plates in our community and when you don’t see them, it feels quite strange.”

“The relationships, friendships, relatives. I mean, there’s so much going on that it has been such a disruption of everyday life,” Henry explained.

Although an open border feels like a light at the end of the tunnel for many, things won’t be the same as they were pre-pandemic.

“I don’t expect a surge at the border the first day that that border opens because there are things, testing requirements that may have to be and needing to be vaccinated,” Rygg said.

Even so, it’s a step they’ve been anxiously waiting for. “Let’s just say this is a breath of fresh air and I think there’s going to be a lot of people looking forward to this,” Henry said.

Visit Greater Grand Forks plans on relaunching its “Canadians Put the ‘Grand’ in our ‘Forks'” campaign over the next few weeks to welcome Canadians back.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, Minnesota News, North Dakota News