Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand once again called on the Biden administration to allow fully vaccinated Canadians to travel to the U.S. for non-essential travel through all ports of entry. Last Monday, 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 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.
“The economic and personal sacrifices that are being prolonged due to closure of land-travel along the northern border are no longer necessary now that COVID-19 vaccines are widely available. In fact, 78% of Canadians over the age of twelve are already fully vaccinated,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The ongoing restrictions have had detrimental impacts on countless New Yorkers, businesses, and medical providers who depend on travel across the northern border. I am calling on the CDC to justify their decision to continue stringent restrictions along the Canadian border and to differentiate between air and land border travel.”
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. Last week, Senator Gillibrand, along with several of her Democratic colleagues, asked President Biden to lift travel restrictions, create a public plan to reopen land ports of entry to vaccinated Canadians, and to appoint an interagency lead to spearhead coordination. 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. 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.
In addition to Senator Gillibrand, this letter was signed by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Tina Smith (D-MN).
To read the full letter, please click here.