Calls for U.S. to reopen land border to vaccinated Canadians grow louder

Politicians in both Canada and the United States are pushing the Biden administration to reopen the U.S. land border to fully vaccinated Canadian travellers.

The U.S. border closure will continue until at least Oct. 21

A bridge with a Canadian flag and American flag.
Flags near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-U.S. border crossing in Windsor, Ont. The crossing has been closed to Canadian tourists since March, 2020. (Rod Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press)

Politicians in both Canada and the United States are pushing the Biden administration to reopen the U.S. land border to fully vaccinated Canadian travellers.

Canadians have not been allowed to cross the land border to the U.S. since March 2020 except for essential purposes. The emergency measure was extended last month and will remain in effect until at least Oct. 21.

The ongoing closure means the Canada-U.S. border has operated under two different sets of rules since late summer, when Ottawa began allowing fully vaccinated U.S. travellers to enter Canada, even for non-essential purposes.

"Canada recognized the powerful protection the vaccines offer and opened their border to all fully vaccinated Americans in August," says a joint statement by U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins and MP Randy Hoback.

"The United States must follow the science and do the same."

Hoback is the Conservative MP for Prince Albert. Higgins, a Democrat, represents New York's 26th congressional district, which includes Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

Tell us what you think!

Help shape the future of CBC article pages by taking a quick survey.

The U.S. border policy has been criticized as inconsistent because the U.S. has allowed Canadians to enter by air for leisure purposes through most of the pandemic — even before vaccines were available.

The U.S. also plans to introduce a new policy in November that will allow a broader range of fully vaccinated foreign nationals to fly to the U.S. provided they also show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

"Canadians and Americans have endured too much separation for too long and our economies have suffered as a result. We owe it to businesses, families and communities on both sides of the border to provide clear policy that allows us to come together again," the statement by Higgs and Hoback continued.

Border businesses still suffering

The Frontier Duty Free Association, the industry association representing Canada's land-border duty-free businesses, said sales are down 80 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels due to a lack of border traffic.

It said sales were down 95 per cent when the border was closed in both directions.

The association issued a statement on Tuesday urging the Canadian government to more strongly advocate for the reopening of the border to fully vaccinated Canadian travellers.

"We have lost the initiative on this issue in Washington," the statement said.

A new poll also suggests that U.S. residents are far more worried about reopening the land border with Mexico than they are about letting Canadians drive south.

The poll, conducted by Leger for the University of Manitoba and Metropolis North America, found just 29 per cent of U.S. respondents were fearful about the Canada-U.S. border.

By comparison, 52.2 per cent of the survey's 3,714 American participants said they were very or somewhat worried about relaxing land travel restrictions between the U.S. and Mexico.

The U.S. land borders with both Canada and Mexico have been operating under the same restrictions during the pandemic.

With files from The Canadian Press

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now