Once again, the United States has extended restrictions on crossing the U.S.-Canada border, meaning Canadians still cannot enter the U.S. for nonessential travel.
And once again, we’re left to shake our heads and wonder: What the heck is going on?
In early August, Canada opened its border to nonessential travel, allowing U.S. citizens to cross provided they have proof of vaccination and a recent negative COVID-19 test. President Joe Biden’s administration has not reciprocated and, Monday, it was announced the U.S. restrictions have again been extended — this time to at least Oct. 21. If the border opens on that day — and the way things are going, there is no reason to assume it will – it will be 19 months since Canadians have been able to drive, walk or row to the United States for nonessential reasons.
Notice the lack of the word “fly,” since Canadians can come here by plane.
As reported recently by Reuters, four U.S. Senators last week wrote a letter to Biden, urging him to reopen the border. It’s nothing new — federal lawmakers, hearing the pleas of their constituents — have basically been begging Biden to relax the restrictions, but to no avail.
In their letter last week, Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Jon Tester of Montana and Angus King of Maine questioned the loophole that allows Canadians to fly here but not drive.
Notably, Hassan, Shaheen and Tester are, like Biden, Democrats. King is an independent.
“We struggle to understand the public health rationale for the disparate treatment in modes of travel,” the senators wrote, as reported by Reuters.
Further, they wrote, “a plan with some indication of when your administration would feel comfortable lifting border restrictions based on public health data would provide clarity to businesses and families along the northern border.”
We emphasize the phrase “the northern border,” since it’s apparent it is a geographic location that doesn’t appear on maps in the current White House. There seems to be no great urgency or interest in helping the many, many people whose businesses and family interests have been greatly disrupted by the pandemic and the restrictions that continue to limit Canadians’ access to our country.
Even amid COVID-19, life continues here in the northern reaches of the nation. We are having concerts, parades and sporting events. We know COVID still is a health risk, but we also are moving forward, we hope with care about our health and for the health of others.
Canadians in our midst will not risk our health, and especially Canadians who can prove their vaccination status and their overall health. At present, more than 70% of Canadians have had at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot.
It’s time to open the border, and any more delays simply show a lack of empathy for those of us who live near Canada and miss their friendship and their business.
This other view is the opinion of the editorial board of our sister publication, the Grand Forks Herald.