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Maine's Northern Border Communities Say Continued Border Closure Will Keep Hurting Business

Robbie Feinberg
Maine Public
The International Bridge between Madawaska, Maine, and Edmunston, New Brunswick.

Residents of communities along Maine's northern border say they're happy that some border restrictions are being relaxed -- but they don't offer much help for struggling businesses.

Earlier this week, the Canadian government announced that it would begin allowing vaccinated Americans into Canada for non-essential travel next month. But on Wednesday, United States officials announced that they will keep land border entries closed through at least August 21. U.S. citizens will be allowed to come back if they visit Canada.

Sharon Boucher, the executive director of the St. John Valley Chamber of Commerce, says that was positive news for American residents that will soon be able to visit family in Canada, as she says some family members have been separated for months.

"It's still quite restrictive," she says. "But at least we can go. And they can see their children and grandchildren."

But Boucher says businesses in her community continue to miss the hundreds of Canadians who would typically cross the border for events and summer festivals.

"So there's all kinds of things that are hurting. The restaurants, the convenience stores, gasoline stations, grocery stores," Boucher says.

Gov. Janet Mills and members of Maine's congressional delegation criticized the decision to keep the U.S. border closed, saying that it continues to hurt local businesses and families in the Northern and Eastern parts of the state.