Governors want Biden to explain why the U.S. border is shuttered to Canadians

The background: Last week, the Trudeau government announced that Americans who have been fully vaccinated will be allowed to travel to Canada starting in August. The decision of Prime Minister Justin Trudeaus was made amid rising vaccination rates in Canada, falling Covid caseloads, and declining hospitalizations. The Biden administration reaffirmed its ban on non-essential travel between the U.S. and Canada land and ferry crossings a few days later. This was at least until Aug. 21. Officials from the United States cited Covid's continued spread within the U.S. as well as globally, as well as the emergence of Delta variants as contributing factors. The U.S. decision was met by frustration. Families separated from their loved ones, business leaders, and legislators have been putting pressure on President Joe Biden for more relaxed border measures, or at the very least, a detailed plan. Since the Covid-19 pandemic of March 2020, the border has been closed to all but the most discretionary travellers. Clarity is required: The governors demanded clarity in their letter. They stated that the U.S. call for the extension of border restrictions was intensifying the already significant economic effects of the pandemic on the northern border communities and the states. We are writing to you to request additional information, preferably in the form a detailed briefing on COVID-19 travel restrictions which impact the U.S.-Canadian frontier. Leaders of the states stated that they want to know exactly what information was used by the federal government to make its decision about the border and the metrics required to reopen it. They also demanded clarity from the government about how it plans to help affected communities, and any obstacles to the timely implementation of a well-thought out and clearly defined reopening program. The letter was signed by Mike Dunleavy of Alaska, Tim Walz of Minnesota, New Hampshires Chris Sununu and Ohios Mike DeWine. Next: Canada will begin welcoming U.S. tourists who have been vaccinated Aug. 9, but there is no indication that the U.S. intends to reopen its land crossings to Canadians even on August 21. Over the next few weeks, all eyes will be on the White House for any indications that the U.S. might ease border restrictions. After the Trudeau/Biden decisions, the top Canadian and American diplomats insist that the two countries remain committed to a coordinated lifting of border restrictions, even though they are moving at different speeds. Kirsten Hillman, Canadian Ambassador, noted that American rules allowed Canadians to fly to America during the pandemic. Canada, however has limited land border travel.

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