On Friday, some North Country politicians chastised the US government for extending a no-fly zone along the border with Canada and Mexico to halt the spread of COVID-19 despite mounting demand to relax the restrictions. 

Border cities in the United States that rely on Mexican and Canadian shopping and their political officials have lobbied the administration jobs to rescind the prohibition. In addition, on August 9, Canada began allowing fully vaccinated US people to enter the country. 

The announcement today that the United States will continue to keep the Canadian border closed is outrageous,” said Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake, in a statement. “Canada opened the border for Americans earlier this month which allowed some people in the North Country to reunite with their families. It is absurd that the United States has yet to reciprocate or even have a plan in place. Although Canada’s reopening plan is somewhat restrictive, it has at least allowed for the passage of some United States travelers, and the United States must put forth a reopening plan.” 

Jones said the border closure hurts the North Country economy and keeps families and loved ones apart. “I am calling for an immediate reversal of this decision, and action must be taken to reopen our border safely,” Jones said. 

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, blamed President Joe Biden for not reopening the northern border.  

The cost of President Biden’s inaction is devastating to North Country families, businesses, and communities hopeful that the United States would restore travel across the border,” Stefanik said in a statement. “It is shameful that while the Canadian government has opened travel for fully vaccinated American travelers, President Biden would still deny northern border communities access to family, travel and commerce jobs. Even though it is past time for the Biden Administration to take action, I will not stop advocating for the residents of the North Country until our northern border is reopened.” 

In June, Stefanik introduced the Northern Border Travel Restored Act. If approved, it would necessitate an expansion of the categories of permitted travel into the United States across the United States/Canada border by the Department of Homeland Security. People traveling to visit family or property in the United States, attend business meetings or site visits, or use U.S. airports fall into this category. The bill also requires DHS to start implementing and submitting to Congress a plan to fully restore non-essential travel into the United States at the northern border. 

DHS said in a tweet Friday that the restrictions on nonessential travel were still needed to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and the delta variant. It extended the ban until at least Sept. 21. DHS said it is working with public health and medical experts to determine how to “safely and sustainably resume normal travel.” 

The travel restrictions had been in place since early in the pandemic in March 2020 and repeatedly extended while allowing commercial traffic and essential crossings to continue. 

Source: The Adirondack Daily Enterprise