How extension of US-Canada border shutdown will affect Michigan economy, families

Border to remain closed for another 30 days

DETROIT – The busiest border crossing between the United States and Canada will remain closed for another 30 days, officials from both countries announced.

On Tuesday, Canadian and U.S. officials said the border will remain closed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. That will have a major affect on people with family on opposite sides of the border, as well as the economy.

There is considerable traffic going across the border because commerce, auto parts and vehicles are allowed to cross.

Residents from both countries can go back and forth.

But what we’ve learned to consider as “unessential" travel will remain prohibited until July 21, officials said. It’s another hit for an already troubled Michigan tourism industry.

MORE: Canada, US border closure: Here’s what to know

None of the business and travel tracking agencies can tell us exactly what Canadian border traffic means to Michigan tourism or state tax coffers, but Marci Farnal, of the Bluewater Convention Center, said it’s significant in the Port Huron area.

“Half our summer is gone and our Canadian friends, they play such a big part in the economy in our communities, with our restaurants and our shopping, with our golfing and hotels,” Farnal said.

She said for border communities, there are regulars who go each way. But Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed with President Donald Trump’s administration that to keep everyone safer, border travel should still be shut down.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shares similar concerns and said while she doesn’t control this issue, she always takes the opportunity to let Washington know its impact.

“It is something that we go out of our way in D.C. to understand the ramification on Michigan every time they make a ruling on that front,” Whitmer said.

Despite partially reopening, Michigan’s economy is still reeling. When you consider tourism is in the top three industries -- along with automotive and farming -- losing this kind of business is going to hurt going forward.

“It was quite devastating for us,” Farnal said. “I mean, it’s hard enough for the states to be shutting down, and then to have our Canadian friends not being able to cross the border -- it definitely is quite disappointing.”

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