St. Stephen, N.B. prepares for change on eve of coronavirus border restrictions

As the country adapts to new ways of doing things amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick is preparing for restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border to come into effect.

With Calais, Maine just across the St. Croix River, residents have become comfortable with crossing into the United States.

“I’m a weekly crosser for sure,” one resident tells Global News. “There are items that are cheaper over there.”

Another says they cross every day, “just to look around the stores.”

The announced restrictions of non-essential crossings mean these routines will have to change.

Allan MacEachern, the mayor of St. Stephen, said the drop in cross-border shoppers will be felt on the Canadian side as well.

“It’s definitely going to slow it down,” he said.

“As a border community, we rely on the economics of being a border town. So that’s our engine. That’s concerning.

“But we’ve got to bear down and get through this.”

Many residents seem to agree that the border restrictions are a necessary step to slow the spread of COVID-19.

One concern raised when the move was announced was the shared fire services between St. Stephen and Calais.

St. Stephen fire chief Sean Morton said crews are crossing back and forth whenever needed.

“It goes in cycles,” he said, “sometimes we won’t go over for several weeks and I’ve seen us be over there multiple times in a week.”

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