U.S. Canadian border

‘Everybody Has to be On Board:' Reaction from Vt. to Closure of Border with Canada

The governments of the U.S. and Canada have agreed to shut down travel for recreation and tourism, trying to slow the spread of COVID-19

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Aiming to slow the spread of COVID-19, leaders of both the U.S. and Canada announced Wednesday they have agreed to temporarily close the border between the countries—with the exception of essential trips.

President Donald Trump, who refers to the new coronavirus as "an invisible enemy," tweeted Wednesday that the decision to temporarily close the border with Canada was made mutually.

"Trade will not be affected," Trump insisted.

"Travelers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. "In both our countries, we're encouraging people to stay home."

Social distancing—reducing contact with other people—has been called critical to combatting the spread of the respiratory disease.

Essential travel, such as shipments of food or fuel, will be allowed under the temporary closure, the leaders said.

While the move was met with support, given the gravity of the situation, it is expected to impact Vermont businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector.

Such businesses have already experienced losses from COVID-19, including the Vermont-wide shutdown of bars and restaurants to dine-in service—though take-out is still allowed.

"I think these are the steps we have to take," Canadian Karen Burley said Wednesday.

NECN and NBC10 Boston met Burley and her family while they were heading home to the Toronto area. Their ski trip to Vermont was cut short when Smugglers' Notch Resort closed lifts to help slow COVID-19 infections.

"Everybody has to be on board for this to work," Burley observed.

Pete Armstrong and his family were returning to the Ottawa region from another shortened ski trip when they made a stop at a store in Highgate.

"We're obviously sad to leave Vermont, but we'll head home and do our two-week isolation, just like every other Canadian," Armstrong said.

Todd Conger owns a deli and convenience store just south of the border in Swanton, where Canadian license plates are easy to spot.

"Our population probably doubles in Swanton on some days, just from bringing tourists and campers and such," Conger said. "If this goes prolonged, we will see the effect of it."

Conger said he hopes life gets back to normal before the busy summer travel season.

"In conjunction with Canada, this is the right step to take, while understanding we have a lot of trade and have a number of employees from there," Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, said Wednesday.

Scott added that the closure of the border with Canada to nonessential trips is another indication of how serious it is that we all do whatever we can to slow the spread of the virus.

"This is a moment of service for all of us," Scott said.

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