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Border towns bank on Canadian visitors as COVID rules ease

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:06 PM EST
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CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. (WCAX) - Border towns along the northern tier are banking on a big decision in Ottawa. Canada is dropping its testing requirements for Canadians returning home after a short trip to the U.S.

People in Northern New York say this is good news for border communities and for the North Country.

“Hearing that is good news for the shop, it’s good news for local business,” said Norman Lague of Lakeside Coffee.

For businesses like Lakeside Coffee in Rouses Point, the news that Canadians can soon cross the border with no tests is good and will bring new faces to town.

“Folks just coming down for the day to do some shopping or to see something different they haven’t seen in a few years,” Lague said.

Until now, Canadians had to test to get back home. There were two options. They could take a test before they left Canada and return home within 72 hours. Or if they stayed in the U.S. longer than 72 hours, they would have to take a test stateside and show the results at the border.

Many complained the complicated testing rules deterred Canadians from heading south for brief visits, something the North Country relies on.

“It was still hindering people from coming over here,” said Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake.

Business leaders say Canada ditching test requirements for its own people will boost the North Country’s economy. It allows Canadians to come down for the day to see friends or family or check on their property, and while they are there, they will spend money by going out to eat or hitting stores.

North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas says the decision proves advocacy on both sides of the border worked.

“They listened and they’ve responded. I thought it would have taken longer before we saw an eventual response of what we are now expecting,” Douglas said.

“We can do this in a safe manner, I think that message got through,” Jones said.

Jones says this is one step closer to a return to normal.

“I think that is a big step in returning to normal, a huge step,” he said.

There’s no official word yet from Canada about when the testing requirement change will go into effect but North Country officials say it will be soon.

RULES FOR AMERICANS HEADED NORTH

What about Americans who want to head north?

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, says Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is working on easing the testing requirements for fully vaccinated Americans who visit Canada, but for now, testing is still required.

Here are the rules as they stand right now for Americans entering Canada:

  • All Americans 5 and older must upload the results of a negative PCR test to a program they call ArriveCAN. That test needs to be taken 72 hours before arriving in Canada. Antigen tests are not accepted.

Breaking it down by vaccination status:

  • If you are a fully vaccinated adult or child, you need to show proof of vaccination.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated, you cannot enter Canada as a tourist or even to visit family or property you own. You can only get in if it is for work or legal reasons.

Coming back to the U.S.:

  • Americans returning home from Canada do not need to share their vaccination status or be tested.

Related Story:

Canada to loosen border testing requirements for short-term visitors to US

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