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Michigander reunites with significant other as Canada reopens border to fully vaccinated Americans

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Posted at 6:27 PM, Aug 09, 2021

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — It has been around 16 months since Canada closed its border to non-essential travel, but that all changed Monday morning when the country reopened to fully vaccinated Americans.

Many families and friends who live on either side of the American and Canadian borders have been separated for over 16 months.

That includes one Michigan man who made plans to be one of the first to cross as restrictions lifted.

"It has been real anxious like the last 72 hours. I just feel like, I'm gonna jump out of my skin, and I was waiting to come over so bad," said Nathan Keeler, a Michigander whose significant other lives in Canada.

Nathan Keeler lives in a works in the Detroit area and has been separated from his girlfriend of 11 years for most of the pandemic.

As the Canadian border reopened to fully vaccinated Americans Monday at 12:01 a.m., he was there to cross over into Canada.

"I thought, ‘oh sure, I'm going to be first. This is great’, and then I went down through the tunnel went around the corner. When I got to the Canadian side, traffic was backed up all the way to the mouth of the tunnel," said Keeler.

Keeler said he waited around 45 minutes at the Detroit-Windsor tunnel to get through, finally crossing around 12:50 a.m.

It was something he has been anticipating doing for a long time.

"It has been tough. It is not fun. My heart goes out to everybody who's going through the same thing and, you know, people that haven't been able to get over. There is a lot of a lot of FaceTime, a lot of watching Netflix together and that kind of stuff," said Keeler.

In order to visit Canada, American tourists must follow Canadian guidelines.

Travelers are required to submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination and provide other travel information on the Canadian government's ArriveCAN app or website at least 72 hours before arriving to the country.

Despite vaccination status, all visitors must provide a negative, molecular PCR test that is taken no more than 72 hours before.

"It becomes a really nice opportunity for them to be able to travel to Canada. A number of people have family there. They have friends there, and I think it's a great opportunity for us to just keep moving forward in the midst of COVID," said a Western Michigan University Professor of Public Health Dr. Robert Bensley.

As Keeler spends his next two weeks making up his and Jane's time apart, he has a message for those who are planning to cross.

"They've been a lot stricter over here in Canada than we have in the US, and you know, they're just trying to keep everybody safe. Even if things aren't open, or it seems just, you know, they're just trying to keep people safe. So trust them, that's all," said Keeler.

For now though, the American border is still closed to Canadian tourists until at least August 21 due to growing COVID-19 cases and the Delta variant in the United States.