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US Border Closure For Canadians Extended One Month

Casino Referendum Tribe
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
In this May 30, 2006, file photo, motorists from St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, wait to go through US Customs at Calais, Maine, at the nation's seventh-busiest crossing on the Canadian border.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is keeping the U.S. border closed to Canadians awhile longer.

The border was supposed to open Saturday, but the increasing case counts of COVID-19 led the government to keep it closed until Sept. 21.

Fort Kent Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Donna Saucier says she is disappointed but not surprised by the news. Economically, she says the closure has been tough for stores and restaurants that rely on Canadian traffic, but just as disheartening is the social impact of not being free to cross.

"Everyone is related to someone across the river, so we want that to be a little more relaxed so we can enjoy each other's company again," she says. "We're very close here, friendly, cordial so to not have that interaction every day, we miss it."

Saucier says though vaccinated residents from the U.S. can now go to Canada, they have to have a negative COVID-19 test to do so, and the cost of those tests is keeping some visitors home.

U.S. businesses affected by the closure can apply for help through the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. The Charter Transportation and Border Business Assistance Grant Program can provide funding for charter transportation companies, land and sea excursion operators and harbor pilots. Customer facing businesses like stores and restaurants open to the public within 25 miles of the border are also encouraged to apply. The deadline is Sept. 13.