The border with Canada reopened to travelers from the United States Monday, ending a long wait from many people eager to see loved ones north of the border.
"Long 19 months, that's for sure," said Deb Burnor, who lives in Vermont but whose parents and siblings live in Canada.
Border restrictions — namely, a pause on leisure travel — put in place at the start of the pandemic to slow the spread of COVID-19 meant Burnor, a dual citizen, went a really long time without seeing her siblings and parents.
"People say, 'Oh, you FaceTime,' but FaceTime is not the same as being there," Burnor told NECN and NBC10 Boston Monday.
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As of Aug. 9, folks can once again drive from the U.S. to Canada and back for vacations, shopping or family visits. A mandatory two-week quarantine has been dropped for people who are fully vaccinated.
"We're adventurers — we might as well do it on the first day," Jocelyn Marianecci of Florida said Monday before she and Cal Azzouni crossed into Canada on a motorcycle.
Marianecci and Azzouni were glad for the new border rules, because they meant their ride could now take them into Canada.
"As long as we're safe about it, we might as well enjoy life," Marianecci said.
Safety is emphasized in Canada's policies.
Visitors from the U.S. have to prove they’re fully vaccinated, need a negative COVID test within three days of arriving at the border, and have to fill out other info on a government app.
"We're vaccinated, so all we have to do is get our PCR test," said Daniel Riesenfeld, who is visiting Vermont this week with Caren Grown.
Riesenfeld and Grown said they feel timing sure is on their side, because the changes made by the Canadian government will allow for a visit with a dear friend in Canada while they're nearby.
"It's great to see it reopened," Grown said of the border with Canada. "But it does need to be reopened safely and securely."
The Biden Administration is still working on developing policies for how and when the U.S. will resume admitting travelers from Canada into the country for leisure trips.
Currently, border restrictions on Canadian tourists who want to visit the U.S. will remain in place until at least Aug. 21, the White House previously announced.
Burnor said she has her appointment for her COVID-19 test, and plans to make her first quarantine-free trip home to see her family this weekend.
"Now, any chance I get, I'm going," Burnor said.
The Vermont Department of Health is encouraging people who do travel to consider getting tested when they return — especially if they went to a place with a lot of virus activity.
That recommendation is regardless of vaccination status, according to Dr. Mark Levine, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health.