EDMUNDSTON, N.B. -- The drive from downtown Edmundston in New Brunswick's northwestern region, to the town of Madawaska in Maine, might only be a matter of a few minutes – but for those separated by the border – it might as well be another world away.

"Having the bridge closed for the past 16 months has taken its toll for the people around here," says Edmundston mayor Eric Marquis.

"We know there's a lot of people from Edmundston and Madawska who have family from one side to the other."

It's a similar story for other New Brunswick border communities, which are anxiously awaiting word on when the Canada-U.S. border will fully reopen to non-essential travel, now that the federal government has started easing restrictions.

All U.S.-Canada land border crossings have been closed to non-essential travel since last March, and the federal government announced last week that it will stay that way until next month at the earliest.

"We were hoping we would see some type of opening from the federal government before the next date that is July 21," says Marquis.

"Like we've seen this past week with the opening of the Quebec border with New Brunswick."

McAdam mayor Ken Stannix has mixed feelings about the extension of the border shutdown.

"To me, it's important that we get the border opened up again," says Stannix.

"But, on the other hand, I'm a pretty cautious guy, and I would like to see a larger percentage of the population have the dual inoculation."

As of Monday, June 21, 19.2 percent of New Brunswick's eligible population, or, more than 132,000 people, have received a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 45.1 per cent of the U.S. population is currently fully vaccinated.