The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the U.S./Canada border will remain closed until at least September 21. The announcement came nearly two weeks after Canada opened its border to fully vaccinated U.S. travelers for non-essential travel on August 9.
“To minimize the spread of Covid-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through September 21, while continuing to ensure the flow of essential trade and travel,” a DHS spokesperson tweeted August 20.
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) said the U.S. not reciprocating Canada’s actions is continuing to hurt border town communities and economies.
“The United States’ decision to extend the northern border closure by another month is wrong and misguided,” DelBene said in a statement. “Over the past year and a half, we have asked our border communities to put their economies and lives on hold to combat this virus. Asking them to wait another month is a lifetime for them. Why can fully vaccinated Canadians fly into the United States but not drive over the border?”
Blaine immigration attorney Len Saunders echoed similar frustration. “This U.S border closure reminds me of the movie “Groundhog Day” … when is it going to end?” he said.
On the other side of the country, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) responded to the extension saying, “The failure to make opening the U.S./Canada border the priority that it should be is a huge mistake. It is beyond disappointing.”
CBC reported Ted Sobel, homeland security attaché at the U.S. embassy in Canada, provided information behind the U.S. deciding in July to keep the border closed during the August 16 Pacific NorthWest Economic Region meeting.
"What really loomed large was the spread of the Delta variant and all the unknowns about that, as well as trends on domestic public health dealing with things like vaccination rates, hospitalization rates, new infection rates," Sobel said, adding the U.S. doesn’t want to reverse a decision on opening the border.
In the U.S., 60 percent of people eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine are vaccinated and 70 percent have at least one dose. In Canada, 70 percent of people eligible for the vaccine are vaccinated and 82 percent have received at least one dose.
The U.S border with Canada and Mexico closed for non-essential travel in March 2020. DHS announced the 17th monthly extension just a day before the ban on non-essential travel into the U.S. was set to expire. Canadian and Mexican travelers can fly into the U.S. for non-essential travel and return by plane, driving or other transportation, while most Europeans cannot fly into the U.S.
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