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Canadians pour into region as US border reopens

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 6:00 PM EST
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JAY, Vt. (WCAX) - Canadians are pouring into the United States for the first time in 20 months. The border between the two countries reopened for vaccinated Canadians Monday morning.

With the border open once again, places like Jay Peak and the businesses surrounding it are eager to welcome Canadians back to Vermont.

“It’s our little heaven,” Alfred Werner said.

Werner, an Ontario native, arrived back in Vermont just a couple of weeks ago after months of uncertainty. He says the process wasn’t easy.

“We chartered a small plane with a couple of friends from Montreal. We drove to Toronto through Montreal, stayed there for a night, got on a little plane and the car had to be put on a truck,” Werner said.

Once again, Canadian visitors can cross into the U.S. by car. There was steady traffic at crossings in Highgate and Champlain, New York, Monday.

For many businesses, like Boutin’s Market in Jay, losing the Canadian customer base was tough, but are now looking forward to welcoming them back.

“We’re really optimistic that they’ll be able to get through the obstacles and restrictions that are needed to cross the border,” said Justin Leyva of Boutin’s Market.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, travelers must present proof of vaccination and state their reason for travel at the border crossing.

“We’re definitely more than happy to welcome them back into the store as far as the Canadians, but when that happens, I don’t know. I foresee that with the restrictions as far as getting tested, being vaccinated-- I’m optimistic that once the snow starts to fly and the mountain opens, we’ll get our regular ski crowd back from the northern border,” Leyva said.

Werner says despite the hurdles, the opportunity to come back to Vermont is worth it.

“We have to get the COVID test at the hospital here in Newport in order to cross back into Canada, it’s part of life so Vermont, yeah, Vermont is heaven,” Werner said.

According to a report done in 2020, roughly half of the customer base at Jay Peak comes in from Canada.

Leyva says he is anticipating a larger crowd of Canadian visitors once the snow starts to fall. Werner agrees, saying he’s been coming to Vermont for years and always looked forward to skiing at Jay Peak.

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