Politicians from both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border asked the Biden and Trudeau administrations Thursday to ease travel restrictions put in place earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Brian Higgins, New York Democrat, joined two Liberal Party members of Canada’s Parliament — Nathaniel Erskine-Smith of Ontario and Wayne Easter of Prince Edward Island — in making the request.
Their plea came nearly 15 months since the U.S.-Canadian border first closed to nonessential travel as both sides tried to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
More than a year later, most Americans and Canadians remain unable to cross the border, separating citizens of either country from families, friends and property in the other, the politicians noted.
“Reopening our countries’ shared border must be a top priority for our respective governments at this point in the pandemic,” they said in a joint statement released by the congressman’s office.
“Guidance from both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Canada’s COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel is clear: Individuals with proof of immunity can travel safely and should not be subject to quarantine requirements,” they added. “It is time for our governments to listen to the experts and together release an evidence-based plan to reunite families, safely resume normal border operations and quickly restore our two countries’ deeply interconnected economies.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that the border will be reopened once three-quarters of the country’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Fifty-nine percent of Canadians have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday, according to the COVID-19 Tracker Canada website. Different vaccines require either one or two shots.
In the U.S., 62% of adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. President Biden wants that number to reach 70% by July 4.
Constituents of Mr. Higgins include New Yorkers living along the Canadian border in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Mr. Erskine-Smith represents part of Toronto, and Mr. Easter represents Malpeque in PEI.
At more than 5,500 miles in length, the U.S.-Canadian border is the longest land boundary between any two countries in the world.