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Local leaders comment on Canadian COVID restrictions


Wed, Sep 21st 2022 07:20 pm

With action expected by Canadian government to lift COVID border restrictions, Higgins calls on US to reciprocate; wants both countries to return to prepandemic border management

Congressman Brian Higgins, co-chair of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group and the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, is calling on the U.S. to end COVID-19-related restrictions at the U.S. border with Canada. Higgins, who has long called for a return to prepandemic border management, is making a new push for U.S. action following multiple published reports citing sources within the Canadian government who are saying Canada will not extend border restrictions set to expire on Sept. 30.

In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security secretary, Higgins wrote, “The time is long overdue for the United States to cease its own COVID-19-related restrictions on our northern border.”

Higgins points out that, while the U.S. policy is to require coronavirus vaccination to cross the border, the standard is not routinely enforced.

“In reality, CBP officers are not requesting that Canadians provide their proof of vaccination unless a vehicle is diverted to secondary inspection for some other, unrelated reason,” he wrote. “This obvious contradiction between policy and practice underscores fact that the policy is accomplishing no public health or border security goals while it imposes an unnecessary burden on the economies of northern border communities and an unnecessary hardship on northern border families.”

Pandemic-related border restrictions imposed by the U.S. and Canadian governments beginning with a near-complete border shutdown started in March of 2020 and have changed multiple times since then. Most recently, people crossing the land border into Canada are required to be vaccinated, be subject to random coronavirus testing, and enter information into the ArriveCAN app within 72 hours of travel. The U.S. currently requires people entering the country via a land port to be able to provide proof of vaccination, if called upon.

Higgins noted the harm continued restrictions are having on communities: “As economic actors, when the travelling public is faced with increased uncertainty at the border, they respond by avoiding cross-border travel. This avoidance has a very tangible negative economic impact in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY, and in other communities on both sides of the border from coast to coast. Again, the time is long overdue for the U.S. to cease all COVID-19-related restrictions on our northern border to allow cross-border travel and its associated economic benefits to return to pre-pandemic levels.”

Just last week, members of Parliament visited Washington, D.C., for meetings of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group. Higgins and the other chairs released a statement calling for ArriveCAN to no longer be a requirement.

Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said, “I’m encouraged by recent reports that indicate the additional COVID-imposed travel requirements at the Canadian border may soon be lifted. For months, I have been calling for and to end the confusing and burdensome requirements, including the use of the unreliable ArriveCan app.

“Travel to and from Canada has been restricted for more than two years, and it has not only been an inconvenience for many Western New York families, but it has been economically devastating for our border communities.

“Our economy in Western New York is directly correlated with our strong relationship with our northern neighbors, and it is well past time to remove the border restrictions placed by the Canadian government that have crippled our economy and stifled the free flow of people and goods between our communities.

“I want to thank all the representatives at all levels of government who are working together on a long-overdue resolution to this issue.”

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