Eastern Townships residents excited for new border rules

·2 min read
Hélène Hamel is relieved the federal government is expected to relax COVID-19 testing for short trips.  (Martin Bilodeau/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Hélène Hamel is relieved the federal government is expected to relax COVID-19 testing for short trips. (Martin Bilodeau/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Reisdents of the small town of Stanstead, Que., east of Montreal and just north of the state of Vermont, have long hoped to reunite with loved ones across the U.S. border. This week, they're rejoicing over Ottawa's imminent plan to ease COVID-19 testing requirements for short trips.

Hélène Hamel's partner is from Stanstead but lives a few kilometres away from her on the other side of the border. Since the start of the pandemic, she hasn't set foot in the United States.

Despite the land border being open to non-essential travel since Nov. 8, the PCR test required upon returning to Canada prevented her from visiting.

"I wasn't up for crossing [the border] because I don't have an extra $200 to spend each time," she said.

Ottawa is expected to loosen testing rules on Friday. The changes will target all air and ground travel, and are expected to come into effect by the end of November.

"With this good news, I could head down there on weekends. To visit him, to visit family, friends," she said.

"It's not just me. There are plenty of people in Stanstead. We just cross for fun, to get some milk, to shop."

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Stanstead's mayor Jody Stone also welcomes the relaxed rules, adding that residents of his municipality used to make frequent trips between the two countries.

"It's been almost two years since we last saw our loved ones," he said. "We'll be able to spend the day with them and be able to come back without a problem."

The announcement is also timely for ski resorts located near the border.

While U.S. resorts like Jay Peak and Stowe in Vermont, are expected to see a large influx of Canadian visitors this year, Canadian resorts likely won't see a big jump in their clientele.

Anyone visiting from the U.S. will still be required to present a negative test result taken 72 hours prior to travel.

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