NY lawmakers cheer lifting of Canadian border restrictions

New York state and federal lawmakers on Monday hailed the decision to lift Canada’s border restrictions by next week, noting the potential economic benefits of the move.

A vaccination requirement for cross-border travel is expected to end on October 1, although travel between the two countries has been restored after being halted in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other changes include the removal of strict testing and quarantine requirements for travel.

Border communities that rely on Canada for tourism and commuting could benefit the most from the change.

“The lifting of onerous travel regulations at the Canadian border is long overdue and welcome news, especially for our border communities that have suffered economically for more than two years,” said Republican Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt. “New Yorkers saw the freedom to socialize and socialize with family and friends suppressed during the pandemic — a freedom that should never again be in the hands of an overbearing government.”

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Travelers are no longer required to provide proof of vaccinations, COVID test results, or undergo random testing. Much of this information was transmitted via the ArriveCAN app, which is considered too cumbersome for many travelers.

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“I’m proud to announce that upon my stepping in, Canada will finally drop its vaccination mandate and ArriveCAN app requirements,” said Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik. “This is a critical step forward in fully restoring travel to the Northern Border for our communities and small businesses who rely on this important partnership. Our northern border communities have suffered enough from the ongoing closure and travel restriction and there is no longer any reason to delay the full restoration of travel.

Bipartisan calls had been made for travel restrictions to be relaxed. In New York, most pandemic-related indoor mask-wearing guidelines have ended, although some rules remain in place in particularly sensitive areas.

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Democratic MP Billy Jones pointed to a decrease in border crossings since the restrictions were put in place.

“As co-chair of the US-Canada Relations Committee of the Council of State Governments, I have worked with leaders on both sides of the border to lift these restrictions so we can be reunited with our northern neighbors,” Jones said. “Border communities like the North Country have a unique relationship with Canadians and we have all felt the negative impact of the partial border closure.”