U.S./Canada border closed

The U.S./Canada border in Pittsburg and elsewhere closed in March to “non-essential traffic” in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

PITTSBURG – As the United States and Canada try to control the spread of the coronavirus by closing their border to “non-essential” traffic, residents of the Great North Woods are more worried about the impact on two crossings in Vermont.

The Granite State shares a 58-mile border with Canada. The only New Hampshire crossing is in Pittsburg, some 24 miles from the village center, at the terminus of U.S. Route 3. The crossing links Pittsburg with Chartierville, Quebec.

According to the ezbordercrossing.com website, the Pittsburg-Chartierville crossing “is used primarily by vacation travelers and local residents.”

The crossing sees about 7,400 passenger cars and 1,150 commercial vehicles annually, with most traffic in July and August, according to the website.

In West Stewartstown, Kyle Daley, whose family has owned and operated Solomon’s Store since 1923, said that with Canaan, Vt.’s two border crossings only a mile from his business, he sees a significant number of shoppers from Canada.

Daley said some customers were beginning to feel the effects of the border restrictions from north to south, but he pointed out that he and North Country locals faced the same in the other direction.

The closest shopping mall and movie theater, Daley said, are in Canada.

In Colebrook, just south of West Stewartstown, Greg Placy, chair of the board of selectmen, said on Friday that though local businesses rely on Canadian customers to varying degrees, the border restrictions were of “little importance” to the town’s overall economic well-being.

“The economy is going to suffer, but it’s already suffering because of the number of people who are just doing the right thing and staying home,” he said.

Placy noted that Colebrook residents can shop in-town or go to stores in Vermont or further south in New Hampshire.

“Our grocery store is open and getting product in every day, but business is slow and it’s the right thing because people should be home taking care of themselves, not intermingling with each other,” Placy said.

Nonetheless, the timing of the border restrictions could be worse.

“If there was a right time for this to happen, it’s now because it’s mud season. Everything is slower during mud season anyway.”

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Friday, July 10, 2020