March 23, 2020

Schumer, Gillibrand Call On Trump To Address Impact Of U.S.-Canada Border Closure And Quarantines On Medical & Essential Supply Chains

Democratic Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, along with a bipartisan group of senators representing states along the United States-Canada border, called on President Trump to consider the effect of closing the U.S.-Canada border on border communities. The letter highlights concerns regarding the border closure’s effect on the supply chains of companies that produce or provide essential goods and services. The northern border closure began March 21st. The letter also urged the president to consider the impact on families living in border communities. 

“With more cases of Coronavirus being diagnosed in New York’s border communities each day it’s imperative that the proper supplies, staff, and assistance that New Yorkers desperately need don’t get interrupted,” said United States Senator Chuck Schumer. “Now, more than ever, having access to medical attention and services can mean life or death, and with a growing number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Upstate New York the need for an unrestricted flow of Canadian healthcare workers is intensifying, which is why I am urging the federal government to immediately address the confusion and assure all New Yorkers that the potentially lifesaving supply chain does not get interrupted.”

“Travel across the northern border is critical for supplies and personnel that New York businesses, hospitals, and medical equipment providers depend on,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “To fight the spread of coronavirus, we need to be mindful of travel restrictions -- making sure they don’t hinder our ability to respond to this growing public health emergency. I urge the Trump administration to consider border communities in its ongoing response to coronavirus.”

The letter urged the president to evaluate the impact of travel restrictions on families and communities along the northern border, some of which share essential services critical to public safety. The senators implored the president to provide guidance as to how closures and quarantines will affect these communities to ensure all necessary exemptions are made in the interest of public health and safety. The letter explains that restrictions on travel across the border are necessary to stem the spread of the coronavirus, but targeted exemptions must be considered and clear directives for those exemptions must be immediately provided so businesses and individuals are able to plan and prepare.

The letter is cosigned by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D- NH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Steve Daines (R-MT), Susan Collins (D-ME), Jim Risch (R-ID), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Gary Peters (D-MI), Angus King (I-ME) and Rob Portman (R-OH).

The full letter can be found here and below.

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March 20, 2020

 

President Donald J. Trump 

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 

Washington, D.C. 20500 

 

Dear Mr. President 

As Senators representing states along the U.S.-Canadian border, we write to request that you carefully consider the implications of, and necessary exemptions to, the existing travel restrictions across the United States' border with Canada and any additional closures that may occur in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also ask that you provide the appropriate exemptions to any domestic quarantines mandated by federal, state or local officials to ensure public health and safety. While protecting public health must be our top consideration, it is critical that businesses Americans rely on to provide medical supplies and other essential goods do not see their supply chains and workforce compromised by restrictions on travel domestically and across the U.S. border. 

Many businesses in our states, including hospitals and medical equipment providers, depend upon travel across the northern border for essential supplies and personnel. In attempting to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, we must ensure that any new travel restrictions do not handicap these industries and their ability to respond to outbreaks quickly and effectively. Federal agencies and the Coronavirus Task Force will need to coordinate closely to ensure the necessary exemptions are made to travel restrictions. We ask that as you make decisions to restrict travel to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, you immediately communicate with the businesses and individuals regarding those restrictions. This will reduce the uncertainty inherent in these unprecedented measures to control outbreaks and increase the effectiveness of our response. 

We also urge you to consider the impact of travel restrictions on families and communities situated along the northern border that often rely on travel to and from Canada, and in some cases, share essential services. Of particular concern are individuals with family members in Canada and communities with deep economic ties across the border. These businesses and communities need to know how additional closures and quarantines will affect them, and we must ensure that all the necessary exemptions are made in the interest of public health and safety. 

We also request that you issue uniform exemptions to any quarantines mandated by federal, state and local authorities. It is evident that some restrictions on movement will be required to stem the spread of this pandemic but targeted exemptions will also be necessary. These exemptions will undoubtedly evolve as the pandemic progresses, but we believe that some level of certainty regarding what businesses and individuals will be exempt from future actions is vital to ensuring the continuity of services to protect public health and safety. This action at the federal level is also necessary to eliminate inconsistencies in exemption policies across state and local governments. 

We thank you for your consideration of this request. 

Sincerely,

Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand