DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Canadian officials on Monday began enforcing tighter restrictions on nonessential travel across its border, which many northern Minnesota business owners view as a move in the wrong direction.
Canada has kept its border closed to nonessential visitors for nearly 11 months because of the coronavirus. New measures to require COVID-19 tests when entering the country are meant to discourage travel by Canadians to the U.S. and elsewhere.
“I would like to request all people who would consider nonessential travel: Now is not the time. Cancel your vacation plans,” Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair said. “Our shared priority must be to keep each other safe.”
While some Minnesota border businesses have been saved by in-state residents heading north during the pandemic, the closure has taken a toll on resort owners who have been hoping for looser restrictions or some exemptions, the Star Tribune reported.
“Our Northwest Angle resorts are struggling,” said Joe Henry, executive director of Lake of the Woods Tourism. “Tourists going to Canada will often stay in Baudette hotels before crossing in the morning — that isn’t happening either, so we’ve lost that business.”
Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, whose border district includes a large swath of northeastern Minnesota, said he has heard from “a number of concerned constituents whose businesses and livelihoods have been suffering” since the border was shut down.