NORTH COUNTRY, NY- On Monday, Garry Douglas, the CEO and President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce said the single greatest driving force to the North Country economy is its connection to Canada.
“It’s what drives us in terms of tourism, in terms of retail in the areas around the border. Everything from gasoline to clothing, it is what drives our hospitality sector,” said Douglas. “About 90% of the boats on Lake Champlain are owned by Canadians. They have never been put in the water this year because they can’t come down to put their boats in the water.”
The decision to close the border to non-essential travel for another month came in a statement on Friday by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. The land border restriction was first announced in March to combat the coronavirus. Douglas feels this was expected, but says he is disappointed in the U.S and Canadian governments.
“We want them to say that they are constructing a plan and a discussion making framework that isn’t a month to month winging it,” said Douglas.
Douglas says the governments should take small steps. For example, allowing people that own property on the other side of the border within 50-100 miles to get to their property. Also, allowing and expanded sense of family connectivity back and forth at the border. Douglas explained there should also be some relaxation just a bit on business travel. He says the North Country is seeing disruption of business because you can’t do things like have an in-person meeting or see sites to make decisions on things.
Essential cross border workers including health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still allowed to go back and forth.