Travelers from Canada are now permitted to enter the U.S. with proof of vaccination for the first time since COVID-19 closed the border almost 20 months ago.

At the port of entry in Highgate Springs, Vermont cars began entering the country early Monday. While there were no delays, a Customs and Border Patrol officer said 12 to 15 cars lined up at midnight, all headed to Florida.

“It feels really good, I’ve been waiting for a long time now. You know it’s been closed for more than a year,” said Octave Frecheux, a Concordia University student who planned to reunite with his friends for a few weeks in New York City.

Montreal citizens Sylvie Poirier and Richard Bourdun got an early start to beat the rush. 

“We thought there would be a lot of cars at the border, but we were lucky, I guess,” said Sylvia Poirier. “There was nobody. but we are going to see some friends in New Hampshire after two years that we couldn’t go and then we’re going five months in Florida.”

Eileen Bigelow, area port director for Vermont, said travelers are required to show proof of their vaccination and travel documents, something she recommends people update after several months of no traveling. 

“We are expecting a higher than normal increase in travelers. We ask that people be patient with the new process that we’re going through so that we can do our job and get folks where they’d like to be,” said Bigelow.

To ensure a quick experience at the border, she advises travelers to download the CBP One app or go to CBP.gov for questions about wait times, the vaccine, and required travel documents.

“I think it is a happy day today,” Bigelow said. “This is showing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel during this past pandemic that we’ve had that really has affected a lot of people around the world with traveling, going to see loved ones, doing their shopping, and so on.”