SLC businesses struggle as border restrictions stop Canadians from entering U.S.
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
OGDENSBURG -- Local businesses continue to struggle as border restrictions still impede Canadians from entering the United States.
On Aug. 9, Canadian officials began allowing travelers from the U.S. to enter the country, so long as they were fully vaccinated and could provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours.As a result, many in the North Country have felt the brunt of the restrictions, losing valuable income from seasonal businesses.
Laura Pearson, Ogdensburg area chamber manager, said that the restaurant, retail, shipping and receiving, convenience stores and just about every business in Ogdensburg has Canadian customers and feels the impact.
“I think the border closing has hit the North Country and the Canadian residents very hard and seriously impacted our recovery from the pandemic,” Pearson said.
Some businesses have become creative in their alternative methods to stay afloat. Local restaurants began using DoorDash and similar apps to bring customers to them.
Some opted for delivery service when they previously had not offered the service.
Others operated a curbside delivery service, to minimize contact and maintain social distancing.
Of the businesses affected most, the UPS Store has been hit hard.
Over 80% of customers were Canadian, cutting a valuable resource for an important business, according to Pearson.
Essential businesses like Price Chopper continue to hire and have done so since the beginning of the pandemic.
Price Chopper has seen a rise in expenses, having offered hazard pay for employees. “Expenses have risen due to the cost of the many safety and sanitation protocols put in place in response to the pandemic, the various perks and bonuses given to our teammates along the way, and the labor costs related to paying teammates their full wages to quarantine and/or convalesce,” stated Mona Golub, VP of public relations and consumer services.
Federal legislators, including Elise Stefanik (R-21), have attempted to pass the Restoring Northern Border Travel Act to remove restrictions for Canadian citizens.
The bill has yet to be taken up on the floor of the House.