North Dakota businesses eager to welcome Manitobans back when Canada-U.S. border reopens

North Dakota businesses eager to welcome Manitobans back when Canada-U.S. border reopens

The United States will be reopening its land borders to Canada and Mexico in November, a move that is long overdue for some.

Others are not so eager to head south just yet.

“I’m somewhat concerned about it because of the rate of COVID that has been in the US and the number of unvaccinated people, way more than here,” another person said.

But for businesses just south of the border, it’s been a long time coming.

“We’re kind of lonely in our parking lots not seeing the Manitoba licence plates,” Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Barry Wilfahrt said.

“I think we’re all very excited seeing the licence plates in our parking lot again every weekend.”

Canadians will have to prove they’re doubled-vaccinated in order to cross into the U.S., but will not be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test. For Canadians crossing back into Canada, however, a COVID-19 test will have to be provided under Ottawa’s current rules.

Many businesses are hoping that won’t deter Canadian travellers.

Wilfahrt says Canadians will bring a much-needed boost to businesses that were hit hard by losing Manitoba customers during the pandemic, particularly restaurants, hotels, and large retail box stores.

“Our hotels have been really most impacted, they’ve seen a decrease from anywhere from 25 to 30 per cent, some even 50 per cent, in occupancy,” Wilfahrt said. “We really, really rely on Canadians in our hotels.”

Wilfahrt said over the course of the pandemic, restaurants lost about 15 to 25 per cent of their customer base. He also said Canadians make up about 10 to 25 per cent of retail business in Grand Forks.
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