For more than 16 months, the locally owned duty-free stores at the U.S.-Canada land border crossings have been shuttered.
But with news on Monday that cross-border travel restrictions will be eased, that is about to change.
As of Aug. 9, Americans will be allowed to enter Canada and return to the United States for recreational reasons. Travellers will be required to produce a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 of travel.
“All of these stores are independently owned, small businesses. As long as people can’t cross the border, people can’t go in the stores,” said Barbara Barrett, the executive director of the Frontier Duty Free Association, based in Ottawa.
“Having the rules eased is monumental. We are excited we can start getting back to work.”
Businesses are already expressing concern about both the required PCR test and the lack of an announcement from the U.S. on when Canadians will be able to cross the land border for recreational reasons.
“We are looking forward to the barriers being broken down. And that is the negative PCR test. There is a cost disincentive,” Barrett said.
The border is expected to open for all international travellers on Sept. 7. All travellers will be required to produce a negative PCR test within 72 hours of land or air travel.
The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade told Global News that Monday’s announcement provides the clarity that businesses need to plan a resumption of work-related travel and conventions.
“We encourage the federal government to continue to work with the United States, the European Union and the many international bodies working to define the new rules and required documentation for travel to ensure a coordinated and reciprocal treatment for Canadians around the world,” CEO Bridgitte Anderson said.
“The scars of the pandemic will run deep, as the absence of international travellers during the pandemic came at a cost of almost $10 billion to Vancouver alone.”
Clipper Vacations, based in Seattle, is now planning to bring back the passenger ferry between Victoria and Seattle at some point in August.
CEO David Gudgel said the move comes just before supports dry up for employees in the United States.
“It is the best news I have had in 16 months. We are happy to be on the other side of this and re-establishing our service,” Gudgel said.