The Public Health Agency of Canada said Monday that it will not extend its vaccine requirements and mandatory use of the Arrive-Can app beyond September 30.
The U.S. still has their COVID-19 travel restrictions in place but Secretary Lindsay Kurrle with the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development hopes that will change soon.
“This is really welcome news to us, we’re happy to hear about it,” said Kurrle. She says before the pandemic, about 7,000 Canadian visitors came to Vermont and now those levels are down 40 percent.
“This is a huge opportunity for border fluidity on both sides,” said Kristy Kennedy, Director of Tourism for the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “Yes, it’s big for U.S. residents to go into Canada, but also helping alleviate some hurdles for our Canadian visitors to come as well.”
Kennedy notes that Champlain border travel is back to 70 percent of their 2019 travel levels.
“Each time since the start of the pandemic and then restrictions went into place at the borders, every time there’s been an ease in restrictions since, we’ve seen an uptick in border crossings,” said Kurrle.
Both Kurrle and Kennedy note that the confusion with the Arrive-Can app was also a deterrent for traveling over the border.
According to the Vermont Agency of Commerce, hotels are seeing strong levels of room reservations.
“Restrictions are prohibiting travel, so by taking them away, we can only imagine that we will see more visitors, that they will be coming here more freely, even a little bit more often, which again means they’re buying products here, they’re spending their dollars here, which of course creates an economic impact,” said Kurrle.
Governor Phil Scott released a statement on the ease of these restrictions saying: “Removing barriers to cross border travel allows our border communities to return to normal social and economic activity, which is an important part of the connection between our two countries.”
He added that the hopes the U.S. government will lift vaccine mandates on the U.S. side of the border as this would remove the “final hurdle” to returning to pre-pandemic border crossing level.s