The federal government plans to drop the COVID-19 vaccination border requirements at the end of September and make the ArriveCan application optional. However, New Brunswick border businesses that rely on Americans say the damage has already been done.
“If that happens, we can start promoting our business again to Americans who are not able to visit us because of the vaccine restrictions and ArriveCAN,” said John Slipp, CEO of Woodstock Duty-Free.
For some, the restrictions have kept them out of Canada for years.
“I cried,” said Jane Paul, who was visiting from Pennsylvania. “It’s really wonderful to be back.”
“We couldn’t come for the last two years because of the COVID travel restrictions. So this is our first time,” added Ronald Paul.
The city of Woodstock hopes the easing restrictions will see their regular American traffic return.
“Campgrounds in particular, one of the largest told me that they are at 30 degrees for the laws of the United States this summer, based on what they have done pre-COVID,” Arthur Slipp, Mayor of Woodstock said. “So, there you are. still have a long way to go in terms of recovery.”
But some say it could hurt Canadians buying local.
“One of the things that has been the upside, unfortunately with COVID, is that we’ve had a lot more local shopping and people coming here to shop local,” Slipp said.
The next step for border businesses, when the restrictions go away, is to convince Americans to come back.
“Americans have lost that habit of coming to visit Canada in their normal routines,” Slip said. “Whether it’s for meals or gifts or travel, whatever it may be, this will help.”