BOTTINEAU, ND – BOTTINEAU, ND – Since the start of the pandemic, 10 of North Dakota’s 18 land crossing ports have been operating fewer hours.
Currently, talks are underway with US Customs and Border Protection to make the shorter hours permanent, which could have major implications across the state.
For cities such as Bottineau, Canadian tourism plays an important role in the city’s commerce.
“Before COVID, our numbers were really high. Canadians spent a lot of time here. We enjoyed them; They came through. He ate at our restaurant. They shopped in our city,” said Kelly Beaver, executive director of the Bottineau Chamber of Commerce.
After the pandemic hit, borders were heavily restricted, limiting travel between the US and Canada. Now with the pandemic over, restrictions have been eased, although many North Dakota’s ports of entry are operating at reduced hours.
US Customs and Border Protection told Your News Leader in a statement, “Reducing hours of operation at ports of entry with little or no traffic, while maintaining staffing levels, enables the CPB to provide additional staffing during peak times to better serve the public and protect our country.” is.”
Limited hours mean less time for commuters and less money for townsfolk.
“If they come down on a Friday after work and want to come back on Sunday, they sometimes have to leave Minot at 3:00 pm and historically have to stay after 3:00 pm and cross the border. Being able, but now with restrictions in place, is changing behavior,” said Stephanie Schonrock, executive director of Visit Minot.
Sen. John Howen, R-ND, said he is working with border security and homeland security agencies to return to normal operations. “We need those hours extended in North Dakota, whether it’s business, or travel, for our farmers or tourism,” Howen said.
US Customs said they do not want to change the hours at this time, which could prompt some travelers to reconsider summer plans.
Bottineau’s business owner Faith Bartsch said that with the Dunseth port of entry being 24 hours, Canadians may have options for longer stays in North Dakota.
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