Praise for border reopening plan across northern New England

  • A car crosses the border into Canada, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, on Aug. 9, 2021. American citizens and permanent residents are allowed to enter Canada for non-essential purposes if they can provide proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days. AP file

Published: 10/13/2021 6:27:53 PM

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Political and business leaders from across northern New England on Wednesday praised plans by the Biden administration to begin allowing people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the United States across the land border with Canada.

The Department of Homeland Security announced late Tuesday that both the Canadian and Mexican borders would reopen early next month. It did not provide a specific date.

Officials across the region have for months been calling for the reopening of the border to nonessential travel, including tourism and family visits.

“Our tourism industry has been anxiously awaiting this news for months, and we are all happy to see the federal government has finally lifted these land border restrictions,” said Taylor Caswell, New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs commissioner. “We are excited to welcome back our Canadian friends very soon and we fully expect to see an increase in visitation to the state in the coming months when our neighbors from the north return.”

In a statement, Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott called the move “a significant step forward on the path from pandemic to endemic management of COVID-19.”

“Vermont and Canada are not just neighbors, our communities are linked by family, friends, social and cultural connections, natural resources, commerce and more,” Scott said.

In a joint statement, the three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation also praised the move.

“It is good news that fully vaccinated family members and loved ones will now be able to reunify and businesses will once again be able to welcome Canadian visitors with ease,” said the statement by Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch. “We know how much personal and financial hardship has been experienced on both sides of the border, and see the reopening as an important step in a long road to recovery.”

New Hampshire Democratic Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen also praised the announcement as did the state’s two members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This is a win for families who’ve been separated and businesses and tourism industries whose operations have been blocked since the start of the pandemic,” Shaheen said in a statement.

Maine independent Sen. Angus King said it was good to see the White House “creating a consistency in travel policy.”

Meanwhile, J.J. Toland, a spokesperson for the Jay Peak Resort, just south of the Canadian border in northern Vermont, which normally gets about half its business from Canadians, said the resort is still waiting to learn the details of what Canadians will have to do to cross between the two countries.

Details such as whether skiers will have to get a COVID-19 test before entering the United States and returning to Canada and what would be an acceptable timeline for those tests are still being worked out.

“Our expectations of potential Canadian business will become clearer as more travel guidance from DHS is issued,” Toland said in an email.




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