Businesses await Nov. 8 border reopening


November 4, 2021

After more than 18 months without Canadian visitors, Haines could see an influx of RV traffic and coho fishermen next week. The U.S.-Canada border will re-open for fully vaccinated Canadians on Nov. 8.

That’s a Monday, so there probably won’t be a long line of cars hankering to get through the U.S. border station at Dalton Cache. But with coho still running, and Yukoners long cut off from the sea, the quiet days of the pandemic in Haines could be waning. “Be prepared to maybe see a bunch of RVs,” said Haines Borough tourism director Steven Auch.

“We’re looking forward to finally getting to see our friends we’ve been separated from forcibly for so long,” said Alaska Rod’s co-owner Rhonda Hinson. “Our Canadian neighbors have always been a big part of our customer base.”

Auch has been running ads in the Yukon and is preparing a newsletter with local business hours and an events schedule to distribute to potential visitors. He also did an interview about Haines on Canadian radio two weeks ago in anticipation of the border opening.

“Certainly a lot of people are interested in coming down,” Auch said. But with the weather turning and limitations like COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements, he said it’s hard to say how many visitors Haines will see next week. “At this point in the year, the numbers are probably going to be fairly low,” Auch said. Still, he suspects that some coho-hungry Yukoners will eagerly journey to their coastal retreat before winter settles in.

Hinson is optimistic. “I’m playing it by ear, but I will be surprised if we don’t have quite a few people show up that first week,” she said. “They love coming here. I’ve had to mail products (like knives and fudge) to Whitehorse to people that are used to coming here.”

Auch said he has heard from some local business owners who haven’t bothered to stock up with extra products for next week given global supply chain issues and the uncertainty of how many Canadians will visit. “It’s tricky for us in Haines to wait, wait, wait and all of a sudden, they say it’s ready to go,” Auch said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has had a policy of reevaluating the border closure every month, usually extending the closure within a few days of its expiration. In the middle of October, the department announced that it would open the border for nonessential travel in November but didn’t specify a date. The White House announced the Nov. 8 date more than a week later.


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