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Congressman Brian Higgins, who serves as co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus and the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group, says the U.S. and Canada should follow guidance implemented by its health agencies and lift remaining pandemic-related border restrictions.
In remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives, Higgins said, it part, “Increased vaccination rates in the United States, Canada and around the world show that communities who have done the right thing and followed the science can return to a watchful sense of normalcy. Today, I am calling on the United States and Canadian governments to follow the science-based directives of their health agencies and to fully reopen the Canadian border to travelers without COVID restrictions.”
The U.S.-Canada border first closed to nonessential travel in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. The Canadian border reopened Aug. 9, 2021, while the U.S. reopened its border on Nov. 8 – each with different restrictions.
In recent days, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance indicating, based on the measurement of hospitalization and infection rates, it is safe for Americans in most communities – if they choose – to go without wearing a mask.
In Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Health lifted capacity limits for indoor settings and proof of vaccination requirements for all settings effective March 1.
Higgins’ team said, “As of Feb. 28, over 81% of Canadians and more than 65% of Americans are fully vaccinated, which has led to lower community spread, fewer hospitalizations and the lifting of COVID-related restrictions in U.S. states and Canadian providences. Yet, both the U.S. and Canada are requiring proof of vaccination to cross the border, and the Canadian government is continuing to also require a negative test.”
Prior to the pandemic, more than 10.5 million people crossed into the U.S. in passenger vehicles through Buffalo/Niagara Falls border crossings annually, many spending money at restaurants, hotels, sporting and cultural destinations locally.
Higgins pointed out the restrictions are continuing to discourage the free-flow of travel, which benefits the two nations: “Two years ago, the border between the United States and Canada closed with devastating consequences for both countries economically and emotionally. Incredible progress has been made in the fight against COVID, and it’s time to remove the remaining disjointed and prohibitive restrictions at the U.S. and Canadian borders.”