Maine Delegation Urges Administration to Open Northern Border to Vaccinated Canadians

The Canadian government has announced that fully-vaccinated Americans can cross the border beginning August 9th, while reports indicate the U.S. will extend restrictions through August 21st

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden today sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, urging the Biden Administration to take steps to allow fully-vaccinated Canadians to cross the U.S.-Canada border for business or leisure given current health conditions. The Delegation’s letter comes on the heels of a recent decision from the Canadian government to allow fully-vaccinated Americans to resume travel between the U.S. and Canada beginning on August 9th, as well as reports that the U.S. intends to extend existing restrictions through August 21st. In the letter, the Delegation highlights the effects of the long-term border closure on Maine businesses and families.

 

“As you are aware, in March of 2020 the U.S-Canada border closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, shutting down all but essential travel between the two countries,” wrote the Delegation. “As a result, many Maine communities that rely on Canadian customers have been challenged, and families who live on either side of the border have been unable to see their loved ones for over a year. Earlier this week, Canada announced plans to adjust its restrictions and allow all fully vaccinated Americans, who are otherwise admissible, to travel from the United States to Canada beginning on August 9, 2021.”

 

“We applaud this decision to allow our citizens to travel across the border; however, we were surprised by reports that the United States government has instead extended existing restrictions through August 21, 2021, blocking Canadians from traveling to the United States for business or leisure,” the Delegation continued.  “This continued border closure has a negative impact on our local economies and families, which is why we urge you to develop an immediate plan to allow vaccinated Canadians to resume travel to United States.”

 

The Maine Delegation has repeatedly pushed to adjust or reevaluate restrictions on non-essential travel across the U.S.-Canada border. In June, Representatives Pingree and Golden joined a group of their colleagues in a letter urging Secretary Mayorkas to safely reopen the U.S.-Canada border. In May, Senators Collins and King took part in a call with U.S. Senators and Canadian members of Parliament to discuss the importance of reopening the border. In February, Senator Collins sent a letter urging Secretary Mayorkas to reevaluate the border restrictions. In October 2020, Senators Collins and King, along with their New Hampshire colleagues, cited the low risk of cross-border transmission and urged the Trump Administration to reevaluate current restrictions.  

 

The Delegation’s full letter can be downloaded HERE or read below:

 

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Dear Secretary Mayorkas:

 

As you are aware, in March of 2020 the U.S-Canada border closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, shutting down all but essential travel between the two countries. As a result, many Maine communities that rely on Canadian customers have been challenged, and families who live on either side of the border have been unable to see their loved ones for over a year. Earlier this week, Canada announced plans to adjust its restrictions and allow all fully vaccinated Americans, who are otherwise admissible, to travel from the United States to Canada beginning on August 9, 2021.

 

We applaud this decision to allow our citizens to travel across the border; however, we were surprised by reports that the United States government has instead extended existing restrictions through August 21, 2021, blocking Canadians from traveling to the United States for business or leisure. This continued border closure has a negative impact on our local economies and families, which is why we urge you to develop an immediate plan to allow vaccinated Canadians to resume travel to United States.

 

There is no doubt that the health and well-being of our citizens is paramount and must take precedence during this pandemic. However, guidelines and standards to safely allow Canadians to travel to the United States can and should be developed to reopen the border with our neighbor and restore the seamless relationships, both personal and professional, that our two countries share. For example, Canada requires American citizens and permanent residents to provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours and proof that they are fully vaccinated 14 days prior to travel. You and others in the administration should work to issue similar guidelines for reciprocal travel.

 

As you know, local economies across Maine depend on our tourism and trade. A key driver of this commerce comes from Canadians visiting communities across our state, particularly during the busy summer season. If we do not reciprocate our neighbor’s step, Maine communities will continue to feel the financial harm while Canadian cities and towns see an economic boom from Americans traveling to their country.

 

The border closure has also made it nearly impossible for family members to see each other. This pandemic has costs that cannot be calculated, as countless Americans have not had an ability to have their Canadian family at milestone events such as weddings, anniversaries, graduations, and holidays for well over a year now. It is time to create and implement guidelines that will allow families to come together once again.  

 

There is no more time to delay; we implore you to quickly develop and implement a plan that will benefit Maine’s economy and our families.

 

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