By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It was very clear Monday morning that Minnesotans have been waiting a long time to get across the border into Canada.

Monday morning a video of vehicles backed up for miles in International Falls was posted to Twitter.

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“After five hours starting at 3:30 a.m. this morning, we are now within a mile of the border crossing,” said one driver.

As of Monday morning, vaccinated Americans are allowed to cross the border, and at one point the wait time to get across was reportedly seven hours.

The border has been closed since March 2020 when both the U.S. and Canada closed it to non-essential travel.

“It means everything to us. We are about 99% U.S. business,” said Ryan Runge, owner of Slate Falls Outposts in Sioux Outlook.

The owner of the Ontario-based business says “just getting by” doesn’t begin to describe the border shut-down. His fly-in fishing operation has been hanging on by a thread, so today is cause for celebration.

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“We are waiting for our first group to show up. They are still in the line-up with the masses, trying to get across the border. Everyone is real anxious to get back up here,” said Runge.

International Falls business owners, like Aaron Schuff, watched the line grow from Sunday evening into Monday afternoon.

“It got pretty busy around town yesterday. Hotels filled up. Everybody getting ready to get into town and wait,” said Schuff, who runs Sportsmen’s Service.

Schuff said his sporting goods store has been busy with anglers who couldn’t cross into Canada. But he says he’s happy that his neighbors to the north will finally get the help they need.

“A lot of rigs with boats and stuff behind them, fishermen. And then there are just vehicles, no trailers or anything and I’m sure a lot of people are now going to see family and friends,” said Schuff.

In addition to being fully vaccinated, Minnesotans looking to cross the border must also test negative for COVID- 19 within 72 hours of travel.

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The border reopening comes just days after Canadian customs agents returned to work after a strike.

John Lauritsen