As the clock struck midnight on Monday (Nov. 8) land borders opened to non-essential traffic crossing the border for the first time since March of 2020 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Lethbridge Herald.
Steadily, albeit slowly.
In fact, at the Coutts-Sweetgrass crossing, vehicles were already cued up Sunday night as fully vaccinated Canadian vacationers and day-trippers staked out their place in line in anticipation of their return to U.S. soil.
Some had started arriving even earlier than that with lines of RVs beginning to stream into Coutts, with a population of around 250, on Friday.
The port of entry between Coutts and Sweet Grass is one of the busiest on the border.
As he walked his dog alongside the chain-link fence overlooking the border crossing at Coutts Monday morning, local resident Steve Pain assessed the long line of vehicles that hadn’t let up in the past nearly 12 hours as rows of vehicles snaked north, past the duty-free building and around the corner on Highway 4, leading clear out of town.
Around noon Monday, the line of vehicles still extended as far as Township Road 12, four kilometers (2.4 miles) north of Coutts.
“It was incredible,” said Pain. “The dog and I went for our walk shortly after 9 p.m. (Sunday) and they were already lined up as far as they could. They weren’t letting them through, of course, but they were lined up. As far as the highway, it was plugged all the way around to the Department of Transport (inspection station) by that time. The streets were lined up with vehicles. We had RVs lined up in the park. All-day long, the little RV park here was plugged and they were already parking in different areas. On the streets, I just couldn’t get over the number of vehicles.”