'We're excited': Canadians explain why they headed south as border restrictions ease

·2 min read

NIAGARA FALLS — Canadians fully vaccinated against COVID-19 were able to cross the land border into the U.S. on Monday as pandemic restrictions eased. Here's a look at why some were making a trip south via a border crossing in Niagara Falls, Ont.

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Patricia Fountain

Fountain, who lives in Niagara Falls, Ont., crossed the Rainbow Bridge to see her boyfriend in New York for the first time in a year and a half.

"I am excited. I am nervous. I am terrified. It's everything. The anxiety is all there," said Fountain, who has been in a long-distance relationship for 17 years.

Before COVID-19 hit and borders closed, Fountain said she used to cross over to the U.S. to see her boyfriend nearly every week. She was last able to see him in May 2020, she said, and has spent the months since then connecting with him over video chats and phone calls.

"I would like to get some normalcy back in my life," she said.

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Denise Panunte

The Welland, Ont., resident was headed to Buffalo, N.Y., on Monday for a reunion with her boyfriend.

She said it's been "difficult” keeping up their long-distance relationship, but the two are going to drive down to Fort Myers, Fla., for the winter and plan to make up for lost time.

"I’m looking forward to it," she said.

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Richard Butti

Butti, a snowbird, and his partner Linda Nummela were headed to their home in Florida for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The couple from North Bay, Ont., said they chose to drive south because it was cheaper than flying and because it meant they could leave their car at their Florida home.

Butti said they're planning to make a few renovations to their Florida home, play some golf and "get some sunshine."

"We’re excited," he said.
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Melissa Bonilla

The Toronto resident and her Australian Shepherd puppy headed over the Rainbow Bridge on Monday to see Bonilla's husband, who lives in South Carolina.

Bonilla said she's flown to the U.S. several times since COVID-19 hit but said the pandemic and its restrictions "did not help" her long-distance relationship. The closure of the land border also meant her dog had to be left behind when she flew to the U.S.

"That’s why we're crossing the land border," said Bonilla.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2021.

Noushin Ziafati, The Canadian Press

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