N.B. border businesses ‘cautiously optimistic’ about dropping COVID-19 measures

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick border town welcomes end of travel restrictions'
New Brunswick border town welcomes end of travel restrictions
WATCH ABOVE: It’s been a long time coming for Canadian communities located along the U.S. border. Saturday marks the end of most pandemic-related travel requirements – and as Robert Lothian reports, hopefully the start of a return to normalcy – Oct 1, 2022

Despite an end to most mandatory travel restrictions for people entering Canada, it was a quiet morning at the border in St. Stephen, N.B.

Before the pandemic, the town was closely connected with Calais, Maine, both in proximity and in relations. The two communities are separated only by the St. Croix River.

“It’s going to be gradual, like I was saying to you earlier, everyone’s become accustomed to doing what they’re doing right now and not having to go over there, and so it’s just going to take a little while for everyone to change their routine,” said Doug Harper the owner of Harper’s Exotic Animals and Pet Supply.

Oct. 1 marked the end of a series of mandatory pandemic-linked restrictions that include the need to use the ArriveCAN app, show proof of vaccination, undergo testing, and quarantine or isolate.

Story continues below advertisement

Changes to the requirements come over two years after the majority of Canada was sealed off due to the emergence of COVID-19.

For Harper, a lifelong St. Stephen resident, news that the restrictions would be coming to an end brought on a sense of happiness, even if it meant his customers could access competitors again.

Get the latest National news. Sent to your email, every day.

“It’s been long enough that these two communities, in my opinion, need to be one again,” he said.

“I’m supportive one way or another with everybody. I just want everything back to normal and everyone to get along again.”

Border restrictions have been slowly eased in recent months as the pressure of the pandemic diminished.

However, the latest changes are expected to streamline the crossing process for travellers, and in border communities, simplify basic trips.

Businesses in St. Stephen, many of whom have not seen their regular U.S. customers in two years, are excited about the changes.

Story continues below advertisement

Shawn Cameron, the co-owner of The Five Kings in St. Stephen, said he became cautiously optimistic when he heard about the dropping of mandatory measures.

“Moving forward with the border opening today should help bring more people over to us, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Cameron admitted it hurt to lose another summer of tourists freely crossing the border.

“We’re probably down, I would say, about 30 per cent from what we normally are with the tourist travels from the states.”

He expects to see visitors slowly return to the region in the coming weeks, with the hope they will be busy by Christmas.

As for Canadians hoping to make a trip to the U.S., vaccination rules for foreign travellers remain in place.

Click to play video: 'Canada dropping COVID-19 border rules, vaccine mandates'
Canada dropping COVID-19 border rules, vaccine mandates

Sponsored content