SCHUMER, URGED CANADIANS TO WORK WITH U.S. OFFICIALS, AND ADOPT NEW ESSENTIAL TRAVELER RULES & IMPLEMENT COMMON SENSE NORTHERN BORDER REOPENING PLAN

CITY OF WASHINGTON (June 21, 2021)–With pandemic restrictions completely lifted in New York last week as New York state reached a 70% vaccination rate, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, on a personal call to Canadian Ambassador Kirsten Hillman, once again pressed for Canadian and U.S. officials to adopt new essential traveler rules – which would include anyone who has been vaccinated and has familial, property, educational, commercial, or medical interests – and to develop a public strategy ASAP to safely reopen the Northern Border.

Just Hours After Latest Border Closure Extension, On Direct Call With Ambassador Hillman, Schumer Discusses Need To Safely Reopen The Border ASAP,  Binational Border Reopening Should Be Highest Priority; Majority Leader Offered Any Available Assistance Needed For A Smooth & Safe Reopening

Thousands Of New Yorkers & Canadians Remain Cut-off From Family, Loved Ones, And Properties & Business Are At Risk Of Losing Another Summer Season; With Local Upstate Economies At Risk, Schumer Says NY Communities Share Deep, Long-Standing Social & Economic Ties With Canada Deserve To Know The End Is In Sight

Schumer to Canada: It’s All Hands On Deck To Safely Open Border; Tell Us What You Need 

Schumer stressed on his Friday call with Ambassador Hillman that since March 2020, American and Canadian stakeholders on both sides of the border have grown frustrated with the endless cycle of month-by-month closure extensions and the lack of transparency on which they’re decided. Just this week, New York State achieved the major goal of at least 70% of all residents have received one vaccine. Another significant milestone occurred this week as the European Union declared Americans as safe to travel to and from as tourists. With the current moratorium on non-essential traffic set to be re-extended on Monday, the United States sending one million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Canada, and with New York reaching a significant milestone of 70% having received at least one vaccine dose, Schumer urged the relevant parties to come to an agreement as soon as possible on how and when to allow for increased cross border travel to avoid the loss of another summer season and hundreds of millions in cross-border dollars.

“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 Senator 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.” 

Specifically, Schumer requested that a binational agreement on reopening criteria be established and disclosed to the public without delay, allowing clarity and certainty for the thousands who have been displaced by the continued cycle of closure extensions. Such clarity, Schumer argued, would provide transparency, goals to meet and guide policy, and would eliminate the need for monthly extensions that have seemed arbitrary.

Additionally, Schumer stressed the importance of recreational and commercial boating in the waters along the border. Currently, American and Canadian boaters are not able to cross the border by water, even if they have no intention of stopping at a port of entry. This practice, Schumer said, unfairly penalizes boaters who present no risk of COVID transmission.

The U.S.-Canadian Border first closed to non-essential travel on March 20, 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID between the two countries. Since then, the border has remained closed, causing hardships for individuals, families, businesses and communities, who depended on cross-border travel to see loved ones or to generate revenue. Schumer said the people who have done their civic duty to get vaccinated and complied with the border closure for the greater good of public health, deserve justification for the border’s continued closure and a plan with benchmark goals that will lead to reopening.

Schumer personally travelled to the Northern Border last month, where he unveiled a four-point plan for reopening and spoke with local officials. He also urged on a direct call to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to work with his Canadian counterparts to adopt a plan for reopening.

COVID-19 variants

Genetic variations of viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, are common and expected.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will naturally develop mutations, which are changes to the genetic material in the virus over time.

When there have been several significant mutations to the virus then it’s called a variant. A variant is of concern when it affects:

  • disease spread
  • disease severity
  • tests used to detect the virus
  • vaccines and treatments

    About the new variants

    These new variants of concern include mutations that seem to make the virus more infectious, allowing it to spread more easily. They may also affect the severity of the disease.

    At this time, there’s evidence that some variants may have an impact on certain drugs and vaccines. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

    The variants don’t currently affect diagnosis through authorized laboratory tests.

    Given the limited data on the new variants, more research is needed to confirm these early findings. The Canadian and global medical, public health and research communities are actively evaluating these variants and other significant mutations.

    Travel restrictions

    We’ve put in place additional emergency measures to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada. Restrictions may change with little notice as the situation evolves. Refer to the latest travel restrictions in Canada.

The Government of Canada is taking a responsible, precautionary approach at the border by continually monitoring available data and scientific evidence to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

Today, the Government of Canada is announcing the details of the first phase of its approach to easing border measures for travellers entering Canada. These cautious adjustments are now possible because of the successes of the vaccine roll out in Canada and Canadians following public health measures.

Beginning July 5, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EDT, fully vaccinated travellers who are permitted to enter Canada will not be subject to the federal requirement to quarantine or take a COVID-19 test on day-8. In addition, fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air will not be required to stay at a government-authorized hotel.

To be considered fully vaccinated, a traveller must have received the full series of a vaccine — or combination of vaccines — accepted by the Government of Canada at least 14 days prior to entering Canada. Currently, those vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). Travellers can receive their vaccine in any country, and must provide documentation supporting their vaccination in English, French or with a certified translation.

For these new measures to apply to them, fully vaccinated travellers must still meet all other mandatory requirements, including pre- and on-arrival testing. Continued testing will allow public health experts to keep monitoring positivity rates at the border, monitor for variants of concern, and make further adjustments to border measures as needed.

Fully vaccinated travellers must also be asymptomatic, have a paper or digital copy of their vaccination documentation, and provide COVID-19-related information electronically through ArriveCAN prior to arrival in Canada. They must still present a suitable quarantine plan, and be prepared to quarantine, in case it is determined at the border that they do not meet all of the conditions required to be exempt from quarantine. As with all other exempt travellers, they will be required to follow public health measures in place, such as wearing a mask when in public, keep a copy of their vaccine and test results, as well as a list of close contacts for 14 days after entry to Canada.

For travellers who are not fully vaccinated, there are no changes to Canada’s current border measures. They must continue to adhere to the current testing and federal quarantine requirements, which have been effective in reducing importation and transmission of COVID-19 and variants in Canada, and provide COVID-19-related information electronically through ArriveCAN before arriving in Canada. Unvaccinated air travellers must also book a three-night stay at a government-authorized hotel before their departure to Canada.

The Government of Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to prioritize the health and safety of Canadians. As vaccination, case counts and hospitalization rates evolve, the Government of Canada will continue to consider further targeted measures at the borders—and when to lift or adjust them—to keep Canadians safe and the economy running. 

Quotes

“The cautious adjustments announced today are only possible because of the tremendous efforts of Canadians, and additional ones will only happen if we continue to protect each other. Thank you to all those who have stepped up to get their first and second dose. If you haven’t, get vaccinated when it’s your turn, follow up for your second dose, and continue to follow public health measures.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

“This is the first phase of our precautionary approach to easing Canada’s border measures. At this time we are not opening up our borders any further. The Government of Canada continues to work globally through the World Health Organization as well as closely with the provinces, territories, Indigenous partners and American authorities on moving forward toward reopening in a way that is safe for both countries.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

“At this time, the Government of Canada continues to strongly advise Canadians to avoid non-essential travel. Although the future is looking brighter than it has for a long time with COVID-19 cases on a downward trend and vaccination efforts going well across the country, we can’t let our guard down. Our phased approach to easing border measures is guided by facts, scientific evidence, and the advice of our public health experts. In all that we’re doing in response to this pandemic, our top priority continues to be the health, safety and security of all Canadians.”

The Honourable Bill Blair
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“Our government continues to closely monitor traveller positivity rates upon entry to Canada, to help protect Canadians. Today, we announced that we will be eliminating pre-departure temperature screening for international travellers coming to Canada. Also, given the number of COVID-19 cases continue to be very high in India, we have extended our flight restrictions for this country. We will continue to assess the evolving situation and determine appropriate action going forward.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport Canada

“The safety and security of Canadians remains our top priority as we look to support the careful and safe arrival of new permanent residents to Canada over the next year. These new permanent residents will finally be able to start their new life in Canada and Canada will benefit from their skills when we pivot to post-pandemic economic recovery. At the same time, we’ll continue to offer protection to those who need it most, and keep our place as a global leader in providing a safe haven for refugees.”

The Honourable Marco Mendicino
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

 

Source: Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and the Government of Canada

Photo: City and State New York contributed.

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