With Action Expected by Canadian Government to Lift COVID Border Restrictions, Congressman Brian Higgins Calls on the U.S. to Reciprocate
A News Release from the Buffalo, New York Office of U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins
Posted September 21st, 2022 on Niagara At Large
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), Co-Chair of the Canada-US Interparliamentary Group and the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, is calling on the United States to end COVID-related restrictions at the U.S. border with Canada.
Higgins, who has long called for a return to pre-pandemic border management, is making a new push for U.S. action following multiple published reports citing sources within the Canadian Government who are saying Canada will not extend border restrictions set to expire on September 30, 2022.
In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security<https://higgins.house.gov/sites/higgins.house.gov/files/9-21-22%20rep%20higgins%20covid-19-related%20northern%20border%20restrictions%20september%202022.pdf> (DHS) Secretary, Higgins writes, “The time is long overdue for the United States to cease its own COVID-19- related restrictions on our northern border.”
Higgins points out that, while the U.S. policy is to require COVID vaccination to cross the border, the standard is not routinely enforced.
“In reality, CBP officers are not requesting that Canadians provide their proof of vaccination unless a vehicle is diverted to secondary inspection for some other, unrelated reason. This obvious contradiction between policy and practice underscores fact that the policy is accomplishing no public health or border security goals while it imposes an unnecessary burden on the economies of northern border communities and an unnecessary hardship on northern border families,” Higgins wrote.
Pandemic-related border restrictions imposed by the U.S. and Canadian governments beginning with a near-complete border shutdown started in March of 2020 and have changed multiple times since then.
Most recently, people crossing the land border into Canada are required to be vaccinated, be subject to random COVID testing, and enter information into the ArriveCAN app within 72-hours of travel. The U.S. currently requires people entering the country via a land port to be able to provide proof of vaccination, if called upon.
Higgins notes the harm continued restrictions are having on communities, “As economic actors, when the travelling public is faced with increased uncertainty at the border, they respond by avoiding cross-border travel.
“This avoidance has a very tangible negative economic impact in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY, and in other communities on both sides of the border from coast to coast. Again, the time is long overdue for the U.S. to cease all COVID-19-related restrictions on our northern border to allow cross-border travel and its associated economic benefits to return to pre-pandemic levels.”
Just last week, Members of Parliament visited Washington, DC for meetings of the Canada-US Interparliamentary Group. Rep. Higgins and the other Chairs released a statement<https://higgins.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/joint-statement-by-canada-us-interparliamentary-group-following-meetings> calling for ArriveCAN to no longer be a requirement.
Congressman Higgins’ Western New York district includes the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls and borders Southern Ontario.
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We cannot yet go back to pre-pandemic cross border regulations. In the Sept 4th New York Times statistic of world wide vaccinations, the US has 64% of citizens fully vaccinated vs Canada at 84%. Canadians have gone through too much to allow the border to be open.
More than likely, it will be the people who will be traveling will not be the ones who are vaccinated.