Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY-26) are calling on the Biden administration to ease restrictions along the U.S.-Canada border in light of Canada’s lifting of their border restrictions. Starting October 1st, the Canadian government allowed its final COVID-19 entry restrictions to expire, ending random testing and vaccine requirements. Gillibrand and Higgins have repeatedly urged the administration to prioritize the reopening of the land border safely and efficiently, especially since the northern Canadian border is an economic engine for New York State.
“Today, both Canada and the United States have seen significant declines in serious COVID-19 cases and fatalities, in part due to the work the Biden administration has done in tandem with our Canadian neighbors and local leaders to ensure border communities have had access to the COVID-19 vaccine, medication, and other health care support needed to fight this pandemic,” wrote the lawmakers. “In light of these positive developments, we believe now is the most opportune moment to ease restrictions that would once again unleash the northern border economy, reunite friends, families, and colleagues across the border, and continue the U.S.-Canada partnership that has been crucial for both of our nations’ successes.”
The Canadian land border closure 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. Gillibrand and Higgins have long been vocal advocates for safely reopening the U.S.-Canadian border. Since the onset of the pandemic, Gillibrand 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 October of 2021, following Gillibrand and Higgins’ advocacy, the Biden administration announced that it would reopen the U.S.-Canada land border to fully vaccinated travelers from Canada.
Earlier this week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it was ending its country-specific COVID-19 travel advisories. Gillibrand and Higgins point to this as further acknowledgement of the changing dynamics of the pandemic and justification for the U.S. to also proceed with the lifting of northern border travel restrictions.
For the full letter, please click here.