Canadians worry about reopening borders with U.S. amid lax coronavirus safety measures

With coronavirus infections declining in both the U.S. and Canada, there is hope of reopening the Northern border to increase trade. But Canadians expressed concerns that some Americans have stopped taking coronavirus safety measures. Anna Werner reports.

Video Transcript

JERICKA DUNCAN: To the northern border now. Today marks one year since Canada closed its US border to visitors to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But trade is still flowing. In fact, $1.6 billion in goods cross every day. CBS's Anna Werner reports it appears there's no rush to reopen, despite the toll it's taking on some small businesses.

ANNA WERNER: When we met Lars Jacobson in November, his Bonners Ferry, Idaho store was loaded with packages for Canadians, who used to be able to drive a few miles across the border to pick them up.

LARS JACOBSON: We're close to 2,000 packages waiting here for people to pick up now.

ANNA WERNER: Today, they're still there. And while commercial trucks carrying trade can still cross, Canadians, 90% of whom live within 150 miles of the US border, are nowhere in sight.

LARS JACOBSON: Well, the situation has only deteriorated. You know, we're in a negative situation by many, many, many, many, many thousands of every single month.

ANNA WERNER: Painful? Yes. But repeated at 100 border crossings that span from Alaska to Maine. Canada doesn't appear to be in a rush to resume business as usual. Canadian truckers Leanne and Gerald Steeves roll South to the US weekly, but they don't like what they see here.

LEANNE STEEVES: They don't wear their masks, they're-- they're not social distancing.

BRIAN HIGGINS: We can open successfully, but in order to open successfully, it has to be done safely.

ANNA WERNER: Congressman Brian Higgins is pushing for the border to reopen.

BRIAN HIGGINS: Verify that you've been vaccinated, verify that you're going to wear a mask.

ANNA WERNER: His Buffalo, New York district borders the province of Ontario, where 40% of all Canadians live.

BRIAN HIGGINS: It's almost been like a economically seamless border.

ANNA WERNER: Of course, the border closure is not only about dollars and cents. It's about romance too. We met Bridget and her husband Ian last May. They'd meet here. Bridget in British Columbia, Ian in Washington State, separated by a rusty railing and border guards.

BRIDGET: The drive to Ian's house, it takes me 10 minutes. But we're-- it's like, might as well be continents away.

ANNA WERNER: And now? Nothing's changed, and their lawyer says they're not alone.

- So I hear from at least a half dozen couples-- cross-border couples every day.

ANNA WERNER: Close by where the two meet stands the peace arch, a symbol of friendship between the two countries.

- So it says, "may these gates never be closed."

ANNA WERNER: A symbol put to the test this COVID year. Anna Werner, CBS News.