Higgins: Restrictions create unnecessary barrier to resumption of prepandemic cross-border activity
A little more than two years after the first pandemic restrictions came into effect, in letters to the U.S. and Canadian governments, Congressman Brian Higgins is calling on leaders to remove all pandemic-imposed border restrictions. His request comes as Canada is preparing to announce plans to drop the existing testing requirement for vaccinated travelers entering the country through airports and land ports, effective April 1.
To President Joe Biden, Higgins wrote, “I applaud the news that most travelers entering Canada will not need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test as of April 1st. I write to assert the need for the United States to go one step further and consider the elimination of current vaccination requirements for all travelers at land ports of entry, which inhibit cross-border travel, the flow of commerce, and create an unnecessary barrier to the eventual resumption of pre-pandemic cross-border activity.”
The congressman welcomed public remarks made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week, noting the public’s desire to get back to normal, efforts to look at what more can be done at the border, and the need for decisions informed by science and public health recommendations.
In his letter to the prime minister, Higgins wrote, “Based on current trends, I believe it is time to follow the science and remove the remaining restrictions at the U.S. and Canadian borders to allow Americans and Canadians to move freely across. … A robust bi-national relationship between your country and the region I represent in western New York state is critical to my community’s future.”
The border between the U.S. and Canada first closed to nonessential travel in March of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Canadian border reopened Aug. 9, 2021, while the U.S. reopened its border on Nov. 8, each country with different restrictions.
Earlier this month, health agencies in each country eased domestic COVID-19 restrictions due to progress in fighting the disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance indicating it is safe in most communities to for Americans to go without a mask, if they choose. On March 1, the Ontario Ministry of Health lifted capacity limits for indoor settings and proof of vaccination requirements for all settings.
Higgins also recently spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives, urging the full reopening of the U.S.-Canada border to travelers without COVID-19 restrictions.