Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand praised the Biden administration’s decision to allow fully vaccinated travelers from Canada and Mexico to travel to the U.S. for non-essential travel through all ports of entry. Gillibrand has repeatedly urged the administration to prioritize the reopening the land border to vaccinated travelers, especially for the northern Canadian border which is an economic engine for New York State.
“Finally, the New York-Canadian border will be open again to vaccinated travelers from both nations,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The northern border is an indispensable economic partnership and ties our two nations together and I have repeatedly urged the Biden administration to enact this common sense policy now that 78% of Canadians over the age of 12 are vaccinated. This reopening will be welcome news to countless businesses, medical providers, families, and loved ones that depend on travel across the northern border.”
In an announcement, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas stated that following guidance from public health experts, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will amend Title 19 regulations to allow non-essential travelers who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and have appropriate paperwork to enter the United States via land and ferry ports of entry.
Gillibrand has been a vocal advocate for safely reopening the U.S.-Canadian border. Since the onset of the pandemic, she has requested guidance from both the Biden and Trump administrations to understand how closures and quarantines would affect New York’s bordering communities and to ensure all necessary exemptions have been made in the interest of public health and safety.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced that while it was ending the ban on non-essential travel for travelers entering the United States by plane, it would extend the ban for travelers entering by car through October 21st. In a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Gillibrand requested clarification and medical justification for the CDC’s decision to treat air and land border crossings differently. The Canadian land border closure has placed severe economic strains on the supply chains of New York businesses, hospitals, and medical equipment providers that rely on travel across the northern border to produce essential goods and services. Cross-border families, including those of service members at Fort Drum, are separated by this policy unless they can afford air travel. And in September, Gillibrand wrote a letter to the Biden administration pressing it to make reopening the border a top priority.
Since March of 2020, travel along the U.S.-Canadian border has been severely restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in significant disruptions to New York communities, businesses, and families. The closure and loss of Canadian business cost the U.S. economy $1.5 billion each month and $665-855 million annually in Erie County alone. In July, Gillibrand applauded Canada’s decision to reopen the border to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens, even as the U.S. government extended its ban on non-essential travel from Canada.