By Zach Penque
As of Tuesday, Nov. 30, the U.S.-Canadian border no longer requires Canadians to submit a COVID-19 test if they have been in the U.S. for less than 72 hours. The change in policy came almost a month after the border opened on Nov. 9. While it is a possibility that the border could close down again if COVID-19 gets out of hand once more, both Americans and Canadians are finally going back to a more normal life.
According to Aldi Store Manager Katie Bush, the change in policy will bring in plenty of Canadian shoppers before the holidays.
In an interview with The Niagara Wire, she expressed her excitement: “You know, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen our neighbors from the north. Even with the border opening a couple weeks back, there has hardly been any coming in. I guess from my understanding, they had to submit a rapid COVID test in order to get back home. When I had to get my rapid test done, it cost me over $100. I can’t imagine too many people are willing to pay that price.”
She went on later to say that the company’s sales also greatly reflected the lack of shoppers in the store.
“A typical day in sales was around $40,000-$50,000, which was really great. But then when the border shut down, we literally watched our triple for the first few weeks,” Bush said. “Obviously, that was caused by panic buying, but that seemed to drop drastically when our warehouse couldn’t fulfill our orders. After that, our average daily sales dropped to around $30,000, and it never really jumped back up.”
According to a statistical study done by the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2020, $741.57 billion in sales was generated in supermarkets and other grocery stores. This is $81 billion more than in 2019.
NU senior Tyler Ehde said he has friends who live in Canada, and it’s been anything but easy for him to see them. When the COVID-19 shutdowns first started happening, Ehde had plans to go see his friend, Jeremy, who lives in Canada. He unfortunately had to cancel his plan and did not end up seeing Jeremy until 2 months later.
“I had to fly him in from Toronto to Chicago, then from Chicago to Buffalo, because that’s the only flight route we could find,” he said.
“Of course, there was still that two-week quarantine that he had to sit through, but he was able to get off of work, which was amazing,” Ehde added.
He is certainly not the only one who found it difficult to travel to Canada. According to data collected by the International Trade Administration, in 2019, there were 14.99 million U.S. citizens who traveled to Canada. In 2020, that number dropped to 1.93 million people. For overall travel outside of the U.S., there was a 66.2% decrease from the year prior. It’s important to note that, although travel was restricted, a person could still travel into Canada if it was deemed an emergency, or if it was essential. This explains why there was still some travel over the border in 2020.
For people like Jerry Tiedemann, however, not everything qualifies as essential travel. In his case specifically, maintaining his cottage in Northern Ontario was not allowed. Tiedemann has had the property for over 25 years now, and this was the first year that he was not able to go.
He expressed his frustrations: “We were one of the first cars in line to get over the bridge. It’s been far too long since we’ve been to our property, and I’m sure our neighbors up there are probably (upset) that they’ve had to house sit for this long.”
Tiedemann said he was joking and that his neighbors are wonderful people. He later added, “It’s a miracle that we have such wonderful neighbors there. If it weren’t for them, I really don’t know what would have happened to my property. Don’t get me wrong, I lost plenty of nights of sleep, even when I knew that they were keeping up with things.”
Sam Harding, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, said his wife, Jonna, hasn’t seen most of her family in over a year since they live in Canada. He also stated that they have plans to drive up to see them now that the border is open.
“It’s been really hard for her. She still talks to them on the phone all the time, and does things like Facetime,” Harding said.
He added, “I can’t imagine being in her shoes. I can sympathize with her, but like, this COVID stuff hit us pretty hard.
“When I lived five minutes away from the border, I was pretty (much) in the U.S. every day. My mom used to drive us over as kids to get things like groceries or clothes. I don’t know if it’s still like this, but we had to pay out of pocket when we got to the border for any non-food items we purchased. I remember my dad used to tell my mom to just put our new clothes on in the car and leave the old ones in the trash. … I wish I still lived close to the border, because I would probably do the same thing. Stuffs are expensive here, and you guys got a better selection.”
Things can definitely change in the future if COVID-19 gets out of hand again. For now, as long as a person is vaccinated, they’re allowed to travel over the border without as many issues.