“Quick trips across the border will cease to exist,” says Calais chamber of commerce as border opens

Facebook photo Derek J. White captured photos of motor homes in the Canadian Tire parking lot in St. Stephen, preparing to cross into the United States as its land and sea border opened to non-essential travel Monday, Nov. 8. The sole requirements to enter the U.S. are a passport and proof of vaccination, with calls being made for the Canadian federal government to allow the same.

NEW BRUNSWICK – After 20 months of closure, the U.S. opened its land and sea borders on Monday, Nov. 8 to all non-essential travellers who can provide proof of full vaccination.

The move, touted as a move to fully reopen trade and tourism barriers long in place, comes without much revelry on the Canadian side of the border, as the requirements of logging your travel plans with the Province of New Brunswick, through the ArriveCan app, and a negative PCR test will also be required to re-enter Canada and New Brunswick. The PCR test, a molecular COVID-19 test deemed superior to rapid testing, comes at a cost ranging from $150 to $300.

“Effective today, everyone entering New Brunswick from Maine (or any another state or country) is subject to requirements under federal and provincial guidelines,” says a statement from the Government of New Brunswick on Monday, Nov. 8.

“Everyone entering New Brunswick must also register their travel at www.gnb.ca/travelregistration. This includes New Brunswickers re-entering the province, even after a brief trip.”

While Canada’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Theresa Tam said Health Canada is aware of the criticism of the federal government’s decision to maintain the current protocols for re-entering the country, she said Friday, Nov. 6 that Ottawa is “looking at that quite carefully”, but didn’t offer any further insight to the process.

On the heels of Tam’s comments came a statement from the Public Health Agency of Canada, reminding Canadians of the requirements to come back into the country, regardless of the amount of time spent stateside.

“Even a short trip to the U.S. and back is subject to entry requirements and these requirements can change quickly,” says the statement.

It goes on to outline current return to Canada travel requirements:

• Use ArriveCAN to submit your travel plans within 72 hours of your planned entry into Canada

• Provide proof of a COVID-19 negative molecular test (e.g. PCR) result taken within 72 hours of your planned entry into Canada or have proof of a previous positive molecular test result taken between 14 and 180 days. A rapid antigen test will not be accepted to re-enter Canada

• For short trips that are less than 72 hours, Canadian citizens, people registered under the Indian Act, permanent residents and protected persons travelling to the United States are allowed to do their pre-entry molecular test before they leave Canada

• If entry requirements are not met upon return, travelers may face delays or fines, or be ineligible for the fully vaccinated traveler exemption

• Check and follow both the federal and provincial restrictions and requirements before traveling

“The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) would like to remind travellers that border measures remain in place for travellers entering or returning to Canada and that they should get informed and understand their obligations as they make their travel plans,” says a statement from the CBSA.

“Businesses in Calais have suffered without the Canadian traffic and some have closed,” said Kara Mitchell, executive director of the St. Croix Valley Chamber of Commerce in Calais in an email.

“Some U.S. shoppers anticipate that when the border opens, items will sell out, and not be available; however this isn’t going to happen. U.S. commerce would love to see a generous influx in sales, however with the restrictions placed on re-entry this won’t happen. Travel will never be the same; the quick trip across the border will cease to exist,” she added.

“I personally am saddened as I reflect on the separation between the two countries, and the missed opportunities.”