The Canadian government announced Friday that residents of Minnesota's Northwest Angle driving through Canada to the United States will be exempt from pre- and post-arrival COVID-19 testing.

The action ends more than a year's pandemic restrictions that caused significant hardship to residents and businesses. It was part of a broader Canadian government announcement that it is extending some quarantine measures and travel restrictions.

"To address unique situations along the Canada-U.S. border, residents of Alaska who transit through Yukon by car to get to another part of Alaska, and residents of Northwest Angle, Minnesota, traveling by car through Canada to mainland U.S., will be exempt from pre- and post-arrival testing," the Public Health Agency of Canada said in a news release.

The Northwest Angle, part of Lake of the Woods County, is separated from the rest of Minnesota by Lake of the Woods but shares a land border with Canada. The Angle peninsula has about 120 year-round residents. About 60% of the land belongs to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa.

Since the border was closed to nonessential travelers on March 21 of last year, Canadian officials had not yielded to pressure from U.S. officials who asked for more exceptions for those who can enter the country, including those just passing through on their way back to American soil.

On Friday evening, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, along with fellow Democrat Sen. Tina Smith and other Minnesota lawmakers who have been working to ease the restrictions, announced that they had been lifted for residents.

"Since the pandemic began, the Northwest Angle has been effectively cut off, separating Minnesotans from their homes, businesses and loved ones. I have advocated for a safe easing of travel restrictions, and this announcement is an important step in the right direction," Klobuchar said in a news release.

Klobuchar chaired a recent Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group meeting during which she urged action to begin safely easing border restrictions, including those in the Northwest Angle.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., hailed the move in a Friday night Twitter thread but said it doesn't go far enough.

"I am pleased that residents of the Northwest Angle can again travel freely between their homes and the mainland United States," she wrote. "But while this is indeed progress, the border remains closed to nonresident travel, and nothing short of a full reopening can begin to mitigate the many negative effects of the indefinite closure on Angle lives and livelihoods. I will continue to aggressively pursue a solution."

Over the winter, resort owners built a 22-mile road across frozen Big Traverse Bay, from Warroad to the Angle's south end, to draw visitors to their doorsteps. It was kept up until the spring melt.

Staff writers Pamela Miller, Brooks Johnson and Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report.