CALAIS — Maine will give out more than $5.6 million to dozens of charter transportation companies and businesses that were disrupted by the closure of the U.S. border with Canada.

The money is from the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said. Mills said Wednesday that 37 of the businesses will receive the maximum award of $100,000.

The U.S. has announced plans to reopen its land border with Canada to travelers next month.

Mills said the long closure of the border “created unprecedented economic hardship in communities across much of northern and eastern Maine.” She said the grants will help border businesses recover from that hardship when the border reopens.

Many communities in Maine’s far north and east have economies that are connected with communities across the Canadian border. One example is the Washington County city of Calais and the town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

Travelers from Canada must be vaccinated to cross the border. Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said the state is working to expand testing capacity in border counties.


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