Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce lauds lifting of border restrictions

After the federal government announced on Monday that pandemic driven border restrictions will be lifted as of October 1, the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce says these changes are warmly welcomed by hard-hit retailers.

The organization released a statement on Tuesday saying they support the cessation of measures including proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter Canada, use of the ArriveCAN app, and masking on planes and trains.

In the statement, CEO Karen Cross says the lifting restrictions will have a positive impact on tourism.

"We welcome these changes and the opportunities they represent to help our hard-hit retail and tourism industries recover, while also improving the broader visitor economy," Cross said.

"The removal of restrictions will help address staffing challenges in the federally regulated transportation sector and streamline processes at our borders, allowing for better cross-border experiences."

The Chamber's statement continues saying that they have collaborated with other border Chambers on the "Scrap the App" campaign, saying the use of the app forces additional time and resources to be used on an already strained trucking industry.

However, even with Canada dropping vaccination and ArriveCAN reporting requirements, border operations will not yet be returning to pre-pandemic normalcy until the United States make similar changes.

At this point, restrictions including proof of vaccination for travellers remain on the US side of the border.

In a statement, President of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada Mike Millian says the United States will have to follow suit with this decision to make it an impactful one.

"The PMTC is glad to see the border vaccination requirement at the Canadian border come to an end," Millian said in a statement.

"While the Canadian government's announcement today to end the restrictions on October 1st is welcomed and will help alleviate some of the driver shortage issues by allowing some drivers to return to cross border work, we still need the US Dept of Homeland Security to reciprocate so the Canada-US land border can be fully open again for trade."

The PMTC has noted in separate blogs that while consistently being against mandates for drivers, they have and continue to support individuals getting vaccinated and wearing masks.

In their own release, Kingston's Chamber of Commerce also encouraged vaccination and masking where appropriate, as well as businesses continuing to take precaution with hygiene.

While an important one, the Chamber says easing these restrictions is far from the only step in helping the economy recover, specifically in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News