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Businesses look forward to Canada dropping COVID-19 border restrictions

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Starting Saturday, Canada will have lifted their COVID-19 border restrictions. Some businesses are breathing a sigh of relief.

For some Michigan businesses, backed up traffic on the bridges to Canada is a sight for sore eyes.

Pre-pandemic, up to 40-percent of Bay Mills Casino and Resort customers were Canadian, said General Manager Richard LeBlanc. Half of that base was lost during COVID.

Now that there are no restrictions at all, he said he can breathe easy.

“I have, as a general manager, been navigating through the pandemic like a wartime consigliere almost," LeBlanc said. "I’m certainly interested and very much wanting to return to a regular GM, to see our customers come through, to make them happy.”

With the restrictions completely lifted, he said he expects more Canadians to come back and return to a sense of normalcy.

"It will allow us to start making a more regular advertising push to our Canadian folks, knowing that they have a reduced or free crossing opportunity to us," LeBlanc said.

The Sault International Bridge had less than 200-thousand crossings last year. In 2019, there were over a million.

Ben Jodway is an intern, serving as a reporter for WCMU Public Media and the Pioneer in Big Rapids. He has covered Indigenous communities and political extremism in Michigan.