Canadian officials are finalizing a plan to ease COVID-19 testing requirements for short-term travelers returning home, and it’s welcome news for the North Country, where officials hope less red tape will bring more international business.
Although it’s unclear when the changes could take shape, vaccinated Canadians who have been in the U.S. for less than 72 hours won’t have to show a negative PCR test upon returning to Canada.
North Country Chamber President Garry Douglas said this small change could make a big difference across the region.
“This will allow casual travel by our Canadian neighbors, friends and business partners,” Douglas said. “To come down for a day, a meeting, go to a restaurant, or go skiing this winter. Do things that they want to do, visit family and friends.”
Douglas said he’s curious when the U.S. will follow suit for returning Americans, adding that testing requirements have proven to be a big turn-off for travelers.
“When there’s a lot of rigmarole you’ve got to go through plus 150 dollars for a test when you only intend to go for a day trip, it didn’t make sense,” Douglas said. “They’ve heard and understand that it didn’t make sense.”
Reacting to the planned announcement, North Country Assemblyman Billy Jones applauded the swift action of Canadian officials.
“The burdensome testing requirement has prevented day-trippers and short-term visitors from coming to the North Country, and our regional economies have suffered enough,” Jones said.
Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman said he hopes the region will see immediate benefit once the changes are in place.
“I think that government often works at a glacial speed, but once you start to see movement, it takes on a whole new direction,” Cashman said. “We still have a ways to go, but I’m heartened to see the direction we’re going in.”
Prime Minister Trudeau is visiting Washington D.C. for a meeting with President Biden on Thursday.