Retailers applaud border reopening

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection plaza at the Alexandria Bay port of entry on I-81 on Wellesley Island on Sept. 29. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Corey C. Fram, director of the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council, thought that Canadians should have been allowed to start crossing the border to the United States a long time ago.

On Tuesday night, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that the United States plans to reopen the U.S.-Canadian border to nonessential vaccinated travelers by early November.

“It’s just long, long overdue,” Mr. Fram said Wednesday. “It should have been done in August, at the latest. It’s frustrating, but we’re finally getting this done.”

Canada opened its border for people from the United States about two months ago. Mr. Fram sees no reason why the U.S. couldn’t have done the same.

The U.S.-Canadian Border has been closed to nonessential travelers since March 2020, shortly after the pandemic began.

With the border closed, the north country’s hospitality industry missed out on Canadian travelers coming south for the important summer tourism season, he said.

Mr. Fram expects that the first Canadians to cross the border into the U.S. will be property owners who own land here. There will also be Canadians wanting to visit family members during the holidays.

While the numbers will improve from month to month, Mr. Fram thinks it will be a while before Canadian visits return to pre-pandemic levels, he said.

Getting the border reopened just before the height of the holiday shopping season will make Christmas a lot brighter for the Salmon Run Mall and other retailers.

The owners of the Salmon Run Mall “are thrilled” with the decision as it’s happening just as the holiday shopping season is getting started, mall marketing manager Karla Woods said.

“Our Canadian customers have always represented a significant part of our business, so we are excited to welcome our beloved northern neighbors back into the country and to Salmon Run Mall,” she said.

Mall tenants are already planning to offer special sales events and deals specifically tailored to Canadian shoppers. The mall will share more details about Canadian-focused promotions in the coming weeks.

All COVID-19 health and safety protocols will remain in place at all Pyramid Group properties to ensure the safety of customers, including shoppers from north of the border, she stressed.

On Tuesday night, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., announced that he has received confirmation from U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas that the U.S. plans to reopen in the next few weeks.

Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul, along with Sens. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, have been calling for the reopening of the border. They applauded the federal government’s move.

Travel restrictions at the land border with Mexico will also be lifted.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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