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U.S. extends restrictions on non-essential travel at U.S.-Canada border to August 21

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Posted at 10:43 AM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 14:05:28-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Days after Canada announced it would reopen its border to vaccinated Americans beginning August 9, the United States announced it is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at the U.S.-Canada border to August 21.

The restrictions that were in place were set to expire July 21. Congressman Brian Higgins (D - NY26), who co-leads the Northern Border Caucus and Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group, called on the U.S. to reopen its border following the announcement by the Canadian government earlier this week that it would reopen its border to vaccinated Americans beginning August 9.

Higgins released the following statement in response to the extension:

For months now people and businesses along the border have been strung along month after month holding out hope for the border to reopen. Today’s decision by the Biden administration harms economic recovery and hurts families all across America’s northern border; this is completely unnecessary.

While the United States does nothing, loved ones remain separated and communities whose economies rely on the cross-border exchange continue to suffer economically. Continuation of this shutdown is illogical given the success of vaccines and counterproductive putting the United States at a disadvantage given Canada’s decision to welcome back vaccinated Americans effective August 9th.

The Department of Homeland Security says the restrictions do not apply to air, freight rail, or sea travel travel but does apply to land ports of entry and ferry terminals along the U.S.-Canada border.

Accoirding to DHS "essential travel" includes but is not limited to:

  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States;
  • Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States);
  • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions;
  • Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada in furtherance of such work);
  • Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies);
  • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada);
  • Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel;
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and
  • Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D - NY) released the following statement on the extension Wednesday:

As Canada prepares to further open the border next month, the United States is failing to reciprocate, jeopardizing an already tenuous recovery for thousands of businesses, families, and communities across Upstate New York. It is critical for the United States to level the playing field and create a uniform system, following the science and data, to safely – and finally-- reopen the border for those vaccinated, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that happens as swiftly as possible.