The federal government plans to drop its border requirements for COVID-19 vaccines by the end of September and make the ArriveCan app optional. However, New Brunswick border businesses that rely on Americans say the damage is already done.
“If that happens, we may resume promoting our business to local Americans who have been unable to visit us due to vaccination restrictions and ArriveCAN,” said John Slipp, president of Woodstock Duty-Free.
For some, the restrictions have kept them out of Canada for years.
“I cried,” said Jane Paul, who is from Pennsylvania. “It was so wonderful to be back.”
“We haven’t been able to come for the past two years due to COVID travel restrictions. So it’s our first time,” added Ronald Paul.
The city of Woodstock hopes the easing of restrictions will see its usual return of American traffic.
“Campgrounds in particular, one of our larger ones told me they were about 30% in terms of Americans this summer, based on what they had been doing before COVID,” said said Arthur Slipp, Mayor of Woodstock. “So there’s still a long way to go in terms of recovery.
But some say it could hurt Canadians shopping locally.
“One of the things that’s been a benefit, unfortunately with COVID, is we’ve had a lot more local shopping and people staying here to buy local,” Slipp said.
The next step for border businesses, once restrictions are lifted, is to convince Americans to return.
“Local Americans have lost that habit of coming to visit Canada in their usual routine,” Slipp said. “Whether it’s groceries, gifts or tourism, whatever it is, it will help.”