I. Falls not expecting influx of Canadians when border reopens
Starting Monday, Canadians will again be able to cross the land border into the U.S. It’s been closed since March 2020, although Canadians have been able to fly into the country.
But some in International Falls aren’t holding their breath for an influx of business from across the northern border.
“We were super excited," International Falls Mayor Harley Droba said. "And then we thought about it.”
He and Alison Stewart, an owner of a boutique called The Hideaway in downtown International Falls, say they think the testing requirement to get back into Canada may have people pausing before rushing over to shop and dine.
“As the days have gone by and I’m really talking to our Canadian friends, how many are going to come over when they have to have a negative COVID test to go back home?" Steward asked. "So we’re very curious to know how many will come over.”
Mayor Droba said free rapid testing is not widely available in rural Minnesota.
"Are our Canadian neighbors going to come over here and do their grocery shopping and see a movie or do the stuff that they’ve traditionally done in International Falls and then foot $160, $180 dollar bill to get back into Canada?" he asked.
Canada requires a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of someone’s trip north across the border, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Stewart said pre-COVID, 30 percent of her business came from Canada. So her first thought when she heard about the upcoming reopening was, "I don’t have enough goods."
She hopes those Canadian customers do make a return.
"Beyond the business aspect of it, we’re friends with all these people. And we really miss them," Stewart said.
In the meantime, she and Droba say they will both just wait and see.
"There is going to be some impact," Droba said. "But we don’t think it’s going to be huge until that testing component goes away."