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U.S. land borders reopen to Canadian travelers after nearly 20 months

Posted at 10:45 AM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 17:42:59-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The land borders and ports of entry into the U.S. from Canada reopened at midnight Monday.

Some, like the Peace Bridge, faced severe backups; within an hour, the checkpoint for Canadian travelers entering the states at the Peace Bridge saw delays of nearly two-and-a-half hours.

Wait times to get into the U.S. calmed down slightly between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m., when they increased once again to 30 minutes or more. After 7:00 a.m., the waits shortened as more lanes opened up.

The border reopening will mean a much-needed boost for businesses in Western New York that lost millions of dollars in revenue over the pandemic because of the border closure.

It also gives Canadians who own property in Western New York Communities the chance to come to their properties. Some, like Rachel Cha, will be seeing those properties for the first time.

"This week's exciting," Cha said. "November 8 [with] the border opening, we're meeting the realtor to get the keys to the place we have owned for a year and a half and haven't been to yet."

Canadian homeowner talks about returning to the US

Cha is a second and third-grade teacher in Niagara Falls, Ontario. She bought a townhome in Ellicottville in the days before the pandemic broke out and was unable to visit it before the border closed.

She says now — nearly 20 months after the pandemic began — she will not be taking the ability to cross the border for granted.

"Growing up in a border town, it's just been an extension of our community," she said. "We would cross to grab pizza, to get some groceries, to do some shopping. You never thought twice about going to Niagara Falls, New York or Buffalo and when that was taken away, it was a change of lifestyle."

Travelers must adhere to both American and Canadian rules for crossing the border. You can find those rules here.