St. Stephen — Reactions are mixed in New Brunswick border towns when it comes to reopening after the worst of the pandemic is behind us. Many say it’s too soon to consider opening borders with Maine, while others are eager to cross over to the States.
“They’re talking about opening in July, but that seems too risky to me,” said St. Stephen resident Marcia MacDougall, 47. “Shouldn’t we get things sorted in Atlantic Canada before we add America to the mix? Or, at the very least, everyone should have to prove they’ve had both doses of the vaccine before there’s any travel between Maine and New Brunswick.”
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs has today attempted to quell these fears by saying that, while the borders will likely open in July as planned, the privilege of crossing will only be extended to those needing to grab something on sale at popular Maine retailer Marden’s. This limitation will limit the risk of virus transmission, according to the premier.
“We are all eager to get back to normal, but out of an abundance of caution, come July, New Brunswickers wishing to visit Maine will only be able to do so if they want to grab some cheap food or clothes or makeup or whatever from Marden’s,” he said at an impromptu press conference Monday morning. “We feel this is a compromise everyone can be happy with. What else is there to do in Maine, anyway? We have just as many trees and poorly maintained highways on offer here in New Brunswick. We have seafood, we have camping. We’re basically exactly the same as Maine, minus Stephen King.”
Fredericton mother of three Sheryl Wright is ecstatic about the news, saying her annual trip to Houlton to dig through bargain bins at Marden’s has become a cherished family tradition.
“Everything’s so cheap there!” she cried. “Yeah, I know I spent a lot on gas to get there and back, but it almost makes up the difference to get that sweet, sweet 10% off bulk shoes. There’s really nowhere in Fredericton you can by shoes from a bin like that. Furniture, school supplies — they have it all! It’s like Walmart but more exotic.”
Called Maine’s Best Bargain Store, Marden’s has been a draw for New Brunswickers for years, offering discounted goods of all descriptions.
“Border guards will be checking receipts,” Higgs explained, “as well as times visited. If we find out you went to Maine for anything but a quick Marden’s shop, you’ll be banned from travel to the States for a year. This will also make contract-tracing a lot easier — if you only go to Marden’s, you can’t spread any illness around too much. We also ask that you please refrain from interacting with any Maine residents, as we don’t know what other diseases they’re carrying.”
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