US Canada border: There were no bricks and mortar, no fencing or cement, no cross-border diplomatic skirmish, just two government orders. And that was enough to essentially shut down the world’s longest international border for visitors.
When the US and Canada mutually agreed in March to shut down the border to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, no one predicted it would be closed this long. There is still no specified date for its reopening, although trade has continued between the countries.
“There’s a closeness that we’re definitely missing, but I can tell you not anyone that I have spoken to here wants that border opened anytime soon. We miss you citizens of the US, but we’re not comfortable opening the border,” Bernadette Clement, the mayor of Cornwall, Ontario, said in an interview with CNN.
East to west for thousands of miles, in communities on both sides of the national divide, the border closure is redefining not just economic relationships, but personal lives, in ways no one expected.
“This really is going to have a long-term impact on our communities, economically, socially and on all the things that are really important to us,” said Tim Currier, the mayor of Massena, New York, a “sister” community to Cornwall, just a few miles cross the border on the other side of the St. Lawrence River.
No longer. The border is shut tight for any trips that are deemed “non-essential” or discretionary and that includes all recreation and tourism.
Bigger pain on the Canadian side of the border
Statistics Canada recently reported show cross border car trips are down about 95% across both sides of the border.
For decades in these border communities, people have crossed the border in both directions every day to attend a school or training program, go on a shopping trip to grab a bargain, indulge a craving for a meal at a favorite restaurant or a last-minute trip to the casino to play the slot machines.