Land border between Maine, N.B. to stay open after flights from Europe banned
ST. STEPHEN, N.B. -- The sudden cancellation of flights between continental Europe and the United States shocked the travel industry, and it has certainly been noticed by Maritimers who live closest to our American neighbours.
So far, the land border between the two countries remains open and many hope that status does not change in the days ahead.
Traffic was relatively light Thursday along the border between Maine and the Maritimes. People who live in the area say that is typical for this time of year.
Allan MacEachern, the mayor of St. Stephen, N.B., says many people are wondering what impact the COVID-19 virus may eventually have here.
His counterparts on the other side of the border, including Calais city manager Mike Ellis, have similar feelings.
"Keep the chain of communication open. Keep the border open," Ellis said. "Keep things as normal as we possibly can."
Ellis says developments are difficult to predict.
"Who knows if this was to escalate, and there were to be known cases locally on either side of the border, we'd have to know and make changes accordingly," he said.
One huge change was announced Wednesday night as U.S. President Donald Trump announced the country was suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.
That development caught the attention of local residents like Leonard Rafferty.
"I think it's very important for us to keep the borders open," he said.
Rafferty is a Calais resident who says cross border ties are, in some cases, impossible to sever.
"There's several vital services, such as emergency services, that we share resources," he said.
As yet, there are no confirmed cases of the virus in Maine, but it is close.
"I've heard it's in Massachusetts and New Hampshire already, so there's known cases," Rafferty said. "There are people that have it and they don't even know they have it. I just focus on the fact that we need to do our best to curb it."
As the number of coronavirus cases increases, people who live in this area expect there will be some kind of heightened surveillance along the border. They just hope it's not enough to impact the cross border culture that's developed here over the generations.