Couple who quit jobs to travel eager for U.S. land border reopening
OTTAWA -- On September 23, Neil Harrietha and Patsy Hughes finished their final day of work.
The couple had quit their jobs, sold all their furniture and we’re ready to start a 181-day road trip across the United States in their RV.
"The border was supposed to open, so we thought, you know what the way the world is, if it’s going to open we’re going to go for it," Neil Harrietha said.
However, the border remained closed to Canadians.
“After we quit they started to delay the opening of the border and we’re looking at each other going, well we’re homeless now, we’ve given everything up,” Harrietha said.
Instead, Harrietha, Hughes, and two travelling companions - Eddie and Brenda Rose - began a journey across Canada, hoping to head to British Columbia for warmer weather.
They never made it.
"We were going to get there for the warmer weather and when the border opened we were going to cross, but we got as far as Thunder Bay and found out the border was going to open," Eddie Rowe said.
For three weeks, the foursome has been camping just outside Thunder Bay, eagerly anticipating the day the border would finally reopen.
"Like a kid at Christmas, one more sleep," Brenda Rowe said.
Experts expect major lineups of cars, full of Canadians anxious to take advantage of the new travel options Monday.
"I think you’re going to see a real rush of people just crush across to take advantage of what they’ve been missing out on, which is getting the cheaper deals in the US, especially with the holiday season coming up," Moshe Lander, an economics professor at Concordia University said.
Some say they are eager for a trip south but are put off by the cost of the required negative PCR test to re-enter Canada; mandatory even on trips less than 72 hours.
"That will be a drawback, I mean it won’t be worth it to go there and then you have to wait for the results," said Clem Pinto, who plans to go shopping in the states over the Black Friday weekend.
"Absolutely not, I’d like to but...you have to take a COVID test to come back for up to $200 even though my wife and I are double vaccinated," Marvin Epstein said.
On Friday, Canada’s top doctor said Health Canada would review the border policies, which are currently set to expire on Nov. 21.
"All of these border policies are being actively looked at, at the moment and one of the key ones is what testing measures should be in place for people taking shorter trips," Dr. Theresa Tam, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, said.
Despite the fees, many travellers are still willing to incur the costs to drive a route they haven’t been able to in nearly two years.
"We’ve been here for three weeks and I want to go," Ernie Rowe said.