Joe Friedrichs

Pigeon River border crossing opens to Canadians as travel ban lifts

For the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccinated Canadians will be allowed to cross into the U.S. for reasons that include tourism or family visits.

This includes the Pigeon River crossing in Cook County. The local border crossing is a common entry point into the U.S. for residents of northwestern Ontario, including Thunder Bay. The Grand Portage Lodge and Casino is among the locations cited by Thunder Bay residents as destinations they frequent here in northeastern Minnesota.

For the first time since March 2020, non-citizen travelers will be permitted to enter the U.S. through land borders for a non-essential reason — mainly, that means tourism, the Associated Press reports.

That means that Canadians can reunite with family after many months, make a trip to Duluth or Grand Marais, or to spend the afternoon or night in Grand Portage.

And while the border technically reopens today, officials on both side of the border say to not expect a sudden surge of travelers.

Restrictions are in place for people entering from Canada at Pigeon River and other border crossings. Travelers must have proof of an approved vaccination, verbally attest to travel intent and vaccination status, and have an acceptable ID, such as a passport, enhanced driver’s license or enhanced tribal card, the AP reports.

One key in the reentry process back to Canada is having a negative COVID test. The cost and burden of having to obtain this test is likely to prevent many who want to drive from Ontario to Minnesota from doing so.

As previously reported by WTIP, the Remote Area Border Crossing (RABC) program continues to be suspended. All previously issued RABC permits have expired and U.S. citizens cannot apply for a new permit at this time.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence checked in with Grand Portage Enterprize Manager Brian Sherburne on the day after the border opening to see how things are going. Here’s their conversation.