North Country officials, business leaders blast extension of border closure

Local News

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – With the Canadian Border now shut down for at least another month, frustrations are running high for New York’s elected officials and business leaders who had been hoping the 15 month closure would finally come to an end.

While the border will now be closed through July 21, there was one silver lining for some – beginning July 5, fully-vaccinated Canadian citizens or permanent residents can enter Canada without having to quarantine.

New York Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Plattsburgh) said all things considered, it’s not meaningful progress.

“It just seems like not enough, and the border just needs to be open,” Jones said. “It needs to be open for our families, for our friends on each side of the border. This is really frustrating on each side, we’re hearing the voices and they’re getting louder and louder.”

With New York’s North Country seemingly headed toward another summer season without Canadian tourism despite the state reaching a 70 percent vaccination rate, local leaders are becoming increasingly impatient.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is urging both nation’s leaders to get a detailed reopening plan together as soon as possible to end the uncertainty that has resurfaced each month the shutdown has been extended.

“Once I heard the border closure would be extended yet again for another long thirty days, I immediately called the Canadian Ambassador to see what we can do, on both sides, to finally reopen the border and truly get Upstate New York on the road to recovery,” said Schumer. “I explained to Ambassador Hillman how mindboggling it is that many New Yorkers are free to travel to Europe now, but even those fully vaccinated can’t even drive a few miles north to Canada to their homes, businesses, stores, families, and properties! I urged her to coordinate with me and other U.S. officials ASAP to come up with a plan – based on science, data, and common sense – that will allow for safe and steady border travel and reunite families and friends and jumpstart New York’s local economies. I won’t rest until the northern border is safely and effectively opened for all vaccinated New Yorkers.”

Garry Douglas, President and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, said the measure to allow fully-vaccinated Canadian citizens or permanent residents to enter Canada without having to quarantine is welcome news, but it’s a separate issue from the full reopening of the border.

“More and more Canadian officials and organizations are openly frustrated at the inexplicable lack of a plan,” Douglas said. “And all are fed up with the total absence of transparency and consultation. We and a growing alliance of bi-national voices will continue to call out for hope and progress.”

Assemblyman Jones is calling on the Federal government to act unilaterally and allow Canadians to cross the border to see family and access property.

“I think we’re really going to have to depend on our government, our administration here in the President, to apply the kind of pressure that is needed now, because it just seems like the Canadian government is growing ever so reluctant to do this,” Jones said.

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