The US-Canada border remains closed to non-essential traffic through November 21st. Officials on both sides of the international boundary announced the latest extension, while two local federal representatives renewed their frustration.
Canada's public safety minister, Bill Blair, announced the latest one-month extension Monday. The same extension covers the US-Mexico border. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Global News that they remain concerned for COVID numbers and what they see is the United States' lack of control over its spread.
"Canada is very important, particularly the Province of Ontario, to our economy to our life quality," said Congressman Brian Higgins during an appearance in Buffalo. "I was a kid that grew up in the Canadian shores of Lake Erie. Cottages, people bought homes over there. It's a beautiful, beautiful place. All those people have been denied access to their cottages, to their homes, to their businesses, to their relatives."
Commercial traffic is still allowed to travel to and from Canada. There are some other exceptions, including travel for medical, educational, military, government or emergency response needs. Higgins wrote a letter to the Trump Administration earlier this month, asking the White House to consider easing restrictions for extended relatives separated by the border.
Congressman Chris Jacobs is among those who know firsthand the separation. His mother-in-law livesin Canada. He told WBFO neither he nor his wife have been able to see her in several months. He, too, would like restrictions eased for loved ones, and also for those who own property on the other side of the border.
"I would imagine Southern Ontario, the Fort Erie area, has very low COVID rates," Jacobs said. "I think, instead of looking at it as one monolith country, we should be doing it regionally. Our region, and that region, are safe."
Jacobs also argues that the World Health Organization has updated its position that long-term lockdowns are not effective. Higgins, however, has been unsuccessful in convincing Canadian counterparts to consider relaxed rules for certain circumstances.
"I've been working every day to try to get that border open, dealing with the Canadian ambassador to the United States, dealing with provincial officials, dealing with Canadian federal officials. It all comes down to the same issue, that unless and until we can bring the number of COVID-19 cases down to an acceptable level, you're not going to have that border open," he said.