People along the Canada-U.S. Border await announcement of reopening – .

People along the Canada-U.S. Border await announcement of reopening – .

In a normal, pre-COVID-19 summer, dozens of pleasure boats are anchored in Lake Champlain off the Burlington waterfront by July 4, most of them coming from Canada. But the anchorage is almost empty this year due to the continued closure of the border.

Those who depend directly and indirectly on these boaters hope Canadians will be back soon enough to avoid wasting a second summer to the pandemic.

“We look forward to welcoming our visitors from Canada so that they can truly embrace our new location in Burlington, because I know they are going to love it as much as we do,” said Elizabeth White, Director of Development at Dream. Yacht charter. The company, which rents sailboats onboard to tourists from around the world, moved its Lake Champlain operations to Burlington from upstate New York in 2020.

But it’s unclear when the border – easy navigation about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north to where the Richelieu River in Quebec drains the lake in northern Canada – will fully reopen.

At the start of the pandemic, the US and Canadian governments closed the more than 5,500 mile (8,800 kilometer) border to non-essential traffic. Now, with vaccination rates rising and infection rates falling, many are upset that the two governments have not made detailed plans to fully reopen the border.

Canada relaxes restrictions. Starting Monday, fully vaccinated Canadians or legal permanent residents can return to Canada without quarantine. But among the requirements is a negative test for the virus before they return, and another once they return.

RELATED: Can’t Enter Canada Now? Don’t try Monday, border agency warns potential travelers

The Canadian and US governments should not reassess the border closure until July 21.

Commercial traffic has been returning normally between the two countries since the start of the pandemic. Canadians can travel to the United States with a negative COVID-19 test and Americans can visit Canada to see relatives or close friends, following a strict set of guidelines. But to do this, people entering Canada must self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival and the quarantine is enforced by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The US Travel Association estimates that each month the border is closed costs $ 1.5 billion. Canadian officials say Canada welcomed about 22 million foreign visitors in 2019, including about 15 million from the United States.

But there is a human angle to the fence that is missing in the economic figures.

Recently after the border closed in March 2020, people from both countries traveled to Derby Line, Vermont, and Stanstead, Quebec, to hold impromptu family reunions on their own side of the border. on a residential street. Although they can talk across the border, they can’t touch each other and they can’t go back and forth.

In Washington state, a Point Roberts grocery store was at risk of closing until the state gave it a $ 100,000 grant to keep it open until the border reopened and its Canadian customers returned. . It sits in an approximately 8 square kilometer (5 square mile) slice of the United States, at the tip of a peninsula south of Vancouver, British Columbia, jutting out into U.S. territory.

In the far north of Michigan, a bridge connects Sault Ste. Marie in a larger city of the same name in Ontario, Canada. Denise Boston Talentino, a citizen of both countries, has lived on the American side of the “Soo” for 26 years. She traveled to Canada to work as an addictions counselor before retiring in November, but was unable to visit her family there.

“The United States and Canada were like one world to me. I never imagined it would last this long, ”Talentino said of border rules.

Canadian officials would like 75% of eligible Canadian residents to be fully immunized before easing border restrictions for tourists and business travelers. The Canadian government expects enough vaccines to be delivered for 80% of eligible Canadians to be fully immunized by the end of July. Canadian government statistics show that as of July 1, just over 35% of the eligible Canadian population was fully immunized.

“We are optimistic that the decrease in cases and the increase in vaccination coverage will allow a gradual easing of border measures in due course,” said Madeleine Gomery, spokesperson for Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair . “In the meantime, we are proceeding with appropriate caution on both sides, following the advice of public health experts and encouraging Canadians to continue to get vaccinated.

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, a Liberal Member of Parliament from the Toronto area, has pushed for the safe reopening of the border. Erskine-Smith said easing entry requirements for Canadian citizens is an important step for fully vaccinated people to build confidence in travel.

“I would say I still think we should go faster,” Erskine-Smith said.

He says officials on both sides of the border should have started the process months ago on reopening details such as what would be acceptable proof of vaccination that would allow people to cross.

On the US side, politicians from states along the Canadian border have pushed the Biden administration to move forward with plans to reopen the border.

“We in Vermont are for the restoration of these cross-border relationships as soon as possible,” said US Democratic Senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy. “These decisions should be based on solid science, not politics. “

While the two governments mull over the politics, people accustomed to seeing Canadians every summer wait.

At Old Orchard Beach in Maine, a longtime popular vacation spot for Quebecers, we miss Canadians very much. At the Alouette Beach Resort, there was only one Canadian visitor on Saint-Jean-Baptiste weekend in Quebec, a provincial holiday that often turns into a long weekend for families on vacation. of Quebec.

Owner Fred Kennedy said the loss has been made up to some extent by American visitors, and looking ahead, some Canadians are inquiring about travel later in the summer.

“We still miss Canadians,” Kennedy said. “It gives Old Orchard a flavor. ”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here