Anticipation is growing along the U.S. land border with Canada, ahead of Monday’s reopening to leisure travelers.
Since August, Americans have been able to drive to Canada, but Canadians have not been able to cross by car heading south.
“I feel like it’s almost like a dream come true, finally,” said Emilie Masse of Montreal, adding that she cannot wait to visit New England again.
The U.S. border has been closed to leisure travelers like Emilie since the start of the pandemic, as a measure aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
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Starting Monday, Canadians who are fully vaccinated against COVID and their kids will once again be allowed to cross driving south.
Communities in Vermont that tend to see regular visits from Canadians cheered last month’s announcement that the border would reopen.
“All of my friends and family — everybody’s planning a trip to get down there,” Masse said.
Masse is the daughter-in-law of April Cornell of Burlington, Vermont. who is Canadian-born and operates a well-known clothing, linens and home decor business from Burlington.
“It’s like our sister country,” Cornell said of Canada.
She said she is eager to both welcome back loved ones like Masse and others, as well as her customers from Canada in time for the holiday shopping season.
“We’re thrilled,” Cornell said of the return of travelers from Canada. “We’ve missed them terribly. We have employees in Canada also, so you know we’re not able to see them in person — a lot of Zoom calls.”
NECN has heard grumblings from some Canadians via social media and email who indicated they may hold off on visiting the U.S. a bit longer because of their government’s travel requirements. Namely, they will have to show they tested negative for COVID within 72 hours of their return to the border, and that negative result cannot be from a rapid test.
“It’s important to plan ahead,” advised Jenney Samuelson, the deputy secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services.
Samuelson said Wednesday the agency anticipates the border reopening will mean an increased demand for testing in Vermont.
Samuelson noted Canadians can get tested at Vermont’s state-run sites — at no cost to them — and they should get results in 48 hours or so.
“Where we see there are times where there’s more people at a site than the site can typically accommodate, we will continuously add times or add appointments, so that we can make sure Vermonters and their guests have an opportunity to get tested,” Samuelson said.
He noted that appointments have already been added for around Thanksgiving week because of an expected desire for testing.
Masse said, because she hopes to travel to multiple states and would need to be assured of a test’s turnaround time ahead of returning to Canada, she may have to pay a few hundred dollars for her and her husband to get tested.
“The $300 is not going to stop me from making this trip,” the Montreal resident said, adding she’ll gladly jump through logistical hoops in order to plan a getaway to Cape Cod and see loved ones in Vermont again.
“I’m super excited,” Masse said of Monday’s border reopening.