Two New York members of Congress are asking the U.S. and Canadian governments to develop guidance on reopening the border between the two countries.
The border has been closed to non-essential travel for nearly three months due to COVID-19. The restrictions have been extended every 30 days since March, and there are reports that they will be extended into July.
For now, only essential cross-border travel is permitted. Essential travel is allowed for returning U.S. citizens, people traveling for educational or medical purposes, individuals involved in emergency or government response, cargo drivers and other “lawful cross-border trade” and military service members.
The Canadian government said this week that they would allow visitors from U.S. to enter the country to see family members, but they must observe a 14-day quarantine.
U.S. Reps. Brian Higgins and Elise Stefanik, who serve as co-chairs of the Northern Border Caucus in the House of Representatives, are urging both countries to provide clear direction on the reopening of the border.
“The economic and cultural impacts of sharing an international border are foundational to border communities,” Higgins and Stefanik wrote. “Although Canada has just recently allowed for extremely limited exceptions to the travel restrictions for spouses, dependent children and parents of Canadian residents, people have been separated from their families and their properties for over 3 months.”
When the Department of Homeland Security announced the border restrictions in March, it highlighted the economic impact. The border supports more than $1.7 billion in daily cross-border trade activity.
The shutdown hasn’t affected cargo shipments, but it has impacted the tourism industry and the ability of border residents to see family members.
“We appreciate that the incidence of COVID-19 at communities along the border varies and we respect the public health imperative; yet, a one-size-fits-all approach toward allowing travel across the border has the impact of keeping communities apart,” Higgins, D-Buffalo, and Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, wrote. “There must be bi-national coordination to develop a plan to safely allow for reasonable travel taking into account public health considerations but acknowledging our unique interconnected economies.”
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