US- Canada Border Closure During Coronavirus Pandemic Affecting Businesses

There are thousand businesses which have been facing the consequences of current Coronavirus restrictions in US and Canada

The travel restrictions and shutdowns all over the world have already triggered an economic decline. While some countries began reopening borders and lifted restrictions, officials from the U.S. and Canada said the border crossing between both the countries will remain closed until July 21 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ever since the border has been closed, it has had a devastating effect on all the businesses on both sides -- U.S. and Canada. Earlier, the U.S. witnessed concerned Americans taking out protests against the economy shutdown urging the Trump administration to open the economy as it was affecting their daily lives.

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US and Canada Border Closed Wikimedia commons

As per an early report, in Canada, where the government-imposed the travel restrictions to contain the spread of Coronavirus on March 18, small and medium firms are the worst affected. According to Alberta Professional Outfitters Society, the travel industry alone adds $58 million to Canada's GDP, creates 460 full-time positions, $24.4 million in wages, salaries and benefits, and $12.1 million in taxes. More than 90 percent of the industry's business comes from outside of Canada, while only four percent belong to other parts of the country. But, now the travel-based businesses are vividly struggling.

Since health safety and running economy are equally important, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has urged the government to "safely open" its borders to support the economic recovery of his province. Kenny said if Canada can not lift the restrictions, the federal government and provinces can develop a plan that would facilitate the resumption of international and domestic travel as quickly as possible.

One of the businesses in Canada's Alberta, Alberta Adventures is among those vouching for an urgent end to travel restrictions. Its owner Steve Overguard, said despite the crucial period, "we still have to pay for our allocations, which means the right to take hunters into the field. We still have to pay for that one way or the other, and when the border is not open, there's no way we can get reimbursed for that money."

Steve said it's not fair that the government receives fees paid by outfitters, but outfitters still can't do business with most of their customers to offset those expenses. All the while, they have been unable to access their main source of income: American tourists. Seve said, "We used to take a couple of hundred people. Now, we have may be 50. It's not even paying our fuel bill and is a tough go."

Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau

U.S.- Canada Border Shutdown Effect

Marci Farnal of the Bluewater Convention Center said the effect of the border shutdown is significant in Michigan's Port Huron area. "Half our summer is gone and our Canadian friends, they play such a big part in the economy in our communities, with our restaurants and our shopping, with our golfing and hotels," Farnal added.

In the U.S., Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer too shared similar concerns regarding the effect of the border shutdown. She said that she can't control this situation, but she always takes the opportunity to let Washington DC know its impact.

However, fully reopening the U.S.-Canadian border is going to take time. As per Laurie Trautman, director at Western's Border Policy Research Institute, currently, the number of people crossing the border is down by 98 percent, while commercial traffic is down by 20 percent.

On Saturday, the U.S. President Donald Trump said he would announce new restrictions on visas within a couple of days to block the entry of certain foreign workers and protect Americans struggling with a shrinking job market devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, he also clarified that the land borders with Canada and Mexico would be closed to non-essential crossings, a measure that has been extended several times in the last three months.

This article was first published on June 21, 2020
Related topics : Coronavirus