Reopening the Canada - U.S. land border: Here's what Ontarians are saying

Ontarians have mixed feelings about the United States welcoming Canadians on non-essential trips over land borders once again starting in November.

After 20 months in the COVID-19 pandemic, paying for a pricey plane ticket will no longer be the only option for Canadians wanting to take a holiday, shop and visit friends and family.

Canada allowed fully vaccinated Americans to visit here starting Aug. 9. When Canadians are given the green light to travel south, they too will need to be double vaccinated.

Around the table at the Flying Saucer Restaurant in Niagara Falls, Ontario residents shared their thoughts on the reopening.

Katherine Birston is still stunned she can’t drive across the border to visit the United States and welcomes the change.

“I think it’s wonderful. I grew up in this area. We never thought of it as a border. Just a river so we used to always say we’re just going over the river,” Birston, who lives in Port Dover, said.

“We often go to Florida and we cross the border,” Jeanette Vanzant from Richmond Hil said. “It’s nice to have options.”

For St. Catharine’s resident Sarah Wakulich, the reopening means a chance to save money.

“Excited for cheap gas. I have a Nexus so I usually go over pretty often,” she said.

American tourists, Martha and Doug Welling, visiting from Utah, said they aren’t sure why it’s taken the U.S. government so long to return the opportunity for Canadians to cross on land.

“Thanks for being so careful first and sorry our government wasn’t allowing you to come in, l think that’s a little unfair,” he said.

“It’s just so awesome to see things starting getting back to normal and to see families separated get back together,” she said.

There are safety concerns, however. Darshika Mistry worked in the U.S. frequently before COVID-19. She said she asked her employer to allow her to work remotely for another year.

“There is that fear that I’m not going to be as safe and then bring it to my family and I live in a multi-general family where I’ve got kids and elderly so they are at high risk,” said the Toronto resident.

Many point to the lower vaccination rate in the United States and a view many places in the U.S. are not as strict when it comes to restrictions to curb the spread.

“I have no desire to go over. Travelling is going to be out of the question for a long time,” said Christine Schertzing of Niagara Falls.

“I think they should have waited even longer. There is no reason for the Americans to come here or for us to go there unless you’re going to visit family,” Louise Leonard said.

Still, in just a matter of weeks — two-way traffic is coming to the border.