Biden-Trudeau border meeting dashes hopes for quick Canada reopening – Times Union

North Country officials are renewing calls for the U.S. to unilaterally reopen its border to Canadians after a meeting between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apparently failed to make any progress.

“While area business welcomed recent indications from Canada that they were seemingly ready to take at least some initial steps centered on their quarantine requirements for returning Canadians, we are back to the frustrations of delay and a total lack of transparency or reliable information,” said Garry Douglas, president and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce in Plattsburgh. “And the summit in the U.K. does not appear to have provided any momentum as we had hoped,” he added.

“It is clear that the next step must be some unilateral action by the U.S. perhaps focused on the modest expansion of categories of allowed Canadian entry to include property and boat owners, access to U.S. airports, added business travel, and of course connections within families tragically divided by the wall which has been erected on our northern border for fifteen months now,” Douglas said.

U.S. Representatives Elise Stefanik and Brian Higgins have previously called for a unilateral reopening of the border. 

Even as the border between the United States and Canada abruptly shut 15 months ago, essential goods continue to flow.

Now, even that is threatened, along with the push to permit fully vaccinated Americans to enter Canada, as thousands of Canadian Border Service Agency workers prepare for strike votes starting next week.

But the stumbling block appears to be Canada’s relatively low vaccination rate. While 43.85 percent of U.S. citizens are fully vaccinated, the figure was just 12.22 percent in Canada, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Trudeau said in published remarks that Canada needs to have more of its citizens vaccinated before the border can reopen. The border has been closed since March 2020, at the start of the pandemic. The latest extension of the border closing expires June 21.

This would be the second summer that the land border is closed to leisure travelers. Canadians have been able to fly into the U.S., although U.S. citizens don’t have the same privilege in Canada. 

Canada recently eased quarantine requirements on Canadian citizens returning to Canada, a step that didn’t help those from the U.S. or other countries. 

Now business officials on both sides of the border are worried that the closing will be extended another month, deep into the summer. 

And if that happens?

“Let there be a howl of disbelief and objection,” said Douglas, “if June 21 comes with no progress at all.”

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Biden-Trudeau border meeting dashes hopes for quick Canada reopening – Times Union

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