Sault Ste. Marie officials looking forward to border reopening

For the first time in more than a year, Sault Ste. Marie will be able to once again host its American neighbours - provided they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This comes after the federal government announced on Monday an easing of restrictions at the border.

The change will happen one minute after midnight on Aug. 9 and Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano said he is fully supportive of the federal government's requirements of American travellers.

"It's been very cautious about the health and safety of Canadians," Provenzano said. "I am comforted by the fact that to come across, a U.S. resident would need to be double vaccinated and would also need a negative COVID-19 screening."

He hopes the reopening of the border to American travellers will help the region's struggling tourism industry.

"Hopefully it will help the tourist season and our tourist operators," Provenzano said. "Hopefully it will help our economy a little bit. Hopefully, it will help some of the hotels and motels get some revenue back. There's been a lot of challenges, particularly on the tourism sector, and I think the government is looking to assist and support that as much as possible, but also try and keep Canadians safe at the same time."

Meantime, Rory Ring, president of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce said after losing half of the summer tourism season, he anticipates a rebound in the fall.

"Northern Ontario is famous for its fall colours and I think what we'll see is a tremendous uptick in travel to our area to have that experience," Ring said. "We think that with that flowing right into our winter season will help a lot of our winter sport tourism."

Provenzano points out that residents of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., may be disappointed that there is no plan in place as of now to allow Canadians to cross the border. He said it's up to them to raise the issue with their government.