Oct. 14—PLATTSBURGH — With the announcement that the U.S. will begin reopening its border with Canada to nonessential travel starting in November, some North Country residents are hopeful for an economic rally.
"I think it's a great thing. I have a lot of friends who have businesses over here who are Canadians. I do believe that [the opening] will open up things financially, economically. A lot of things have been shut down or held back tremendously," Jamie Burdo said.
'THE LAKE WAS QUIET'
Although the opening will come after the summer, when many Canadians travel south, Burdo said the area still has plenty to offer for visitors in the fall and winter.
"I think there's a lot of things to be done in the North Country, Vermont even as well. Snowmobiling, side by side, skiing, you name it," Burdo said. "There's a lot to do here, and the Canadians enjoy all of it."
As a boater, Burdo said the waters this summer were noticeably calmer without Canadians.
"The lake was quiet. It was nice," she said. "But I felt bad for the marinas. It's double-sided. I have a lot of friends who own businesses, so to see my friends suffering because they're not here camping, for friends who own campsites, it's hard. I see both sides. I can't imagine not having the ability to come here and enjoy the things that you worked so hard for your whole life."
Although Burdo said she expects the border's opening will bring in an economic boost, Monica Ratliff said she's concerned it could also bring in more coronavirus cases.
"I'm just a little bit scared of the virus, of it spreading more and going back to the way it was when it was shut down all over," she said. "Hopefully many of them will be very cautious."
As part of its requirement for all travel through its borders, the U.S. is asking that visitors be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Burdo thinks the requirement is a good one.
"I think if everyone is vaccinated, or the majority of people are vaccinated, I think that it's definitely a good thing. We need our borders open," she said.
"I think as long as it's done the right way, as long as the vaccines are pushed, having them welcomed back is very important."
A SENSE OF LOSS
Kevin Duniho, a Vermont physical therapist whose two sons live in Quebec, said the latest opening is a step toward making it easier for multi-national families to see each other more often.
"I'm happy that it's opening back up. It means nothing but good things for the economy and for everybody's families who don't have [dual-citizen family members]," he said.
In June, Duniho celebrated Father's Day with family at a dead end roads meeting at the U.S.-Canadian border in Mooers Forks. Although his sons are dual-citizens and haven't faced the same travel restrictions other multi-national families have throughout the pandemic, Duniho said Father's Day was one example of how border restrictions have affected families.
Since the pandemic started, Duniho said one son has graduated high school and started college, while the other has gotten involved in a new job.
"Now they have real, adult lives," Duniho said.
Being away for those milestones, Duniho said, has been difficult.
"There's definitely a sense of loss, feeling like something was taken away from you or you got sort of ripped off," he said. "You just got to get over that and realize it's happening to other people. This is just the cards that life dealt."
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