Congressman Brian Higgins, who for months has urged the US and Canadian governments to ease restrictions at their international border, is now calling on President Joseph Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to relax rules later this month, and then reopen the border early in the summer.
Since March 2020, the border has been closed to all "non-essential" traffic, and the shutdown has been extended on a monthly basis since then. Currently, the closure remains in effect through Friday, May 21.
Higgins, who represents New York's 26th Congressional District, says the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control shows it is finally time that the US and Canada can reopen the border safely.
“For over a year, Americans along the Northern Border have awaited eagerly the end of the pandemic and resumption of normal commerce and travel between our two countries,” writes Higgins in a letter to President Biden. “The CDC's decision lifting the masking requirement for fully vaccinated Americans is an affirmation of the scientific fact on the power of vaccinations to crush COVID-19. This virus is not eradicated, but we have a handle on how it is contracted and transmitted. This decision underscores the minimal risk Americans would pose to Canadians when crossing the border to visit family and property. We cannot keep the border closed forever –families, loved ones, businesses, and communities along the northern border have sacrificed so much for the past year to get where we are. Now is the time for the Biden Administration to act in furtherance of the CDC guidance and work with the Government of Canada to finally open the border beginning Memorial Day.”
Higgins would like to see a gradual reopening, with a fully opened border by July.
Ontario, meanwhile, continues under a stay-at-home order that remains in effect until June 2. COVID cases have decreased in the province over the past month. On April 28 there were 341 cases recorded in the Niagara Region. It was down to only 50 as of May 14. In Toronto, more than 1,469 were recorded on April 16. As of Friday afternoon, there were 691 known cases in Canada's largest city.
Vaccinations in Canada, meanwhile, were increasing after a slow rollout. Nearly 6.8 million people in Ontario received at least one dose as of May 14. More than 16 million Canadians had received at least one shot, with 1.36 million among them receiving their full vaccination to date.