BUFFALO, N.Y. – The current ban on non-essential travel between the United States and Canada is set to expire Monday but it appears the restrictions will be extended.
This week, CBC News reported the border will remain closed for at least another month while Reuters and other outlets said the ban will likely be in place through the end of November. It will come as no surprise to federal leaders from Western New York who indicated they have been pushing for an ease on restrictions but Canadian officials have not been receptive.
Rep. Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, said he's been advocating for reopening because of the border's importance to his district's tourism and commerce but he understands the hesitance of his northern neighbors.
"The statistics are very clear. The number of COVID-19 deaths are seven times more, at least, than they are in Canada. Canadian officials are not going to compromise the health and safety of their population by allowing Americans over there," Higgins said. "Americans aren't welcome in Canada. American's aren't welcomed in 27 European countries because our cases are so high."
“This administration has to understand that we won’t have a healthy economy until we have a healthy country and that starts with taking this virus seriously. Western New York businesses and families have been devastated by the border closure. We miss the free flow of people across the border and the mutual benefits it brings to our neighboring countries, but due to President Trump’s irresponsible and chaotic handling of COVID-19, we respect and understand Canada’s position. This is just one of the consequences of the President’s failed response to this pandemic,” Higgins continued.
Rep. Chris Jacobs, R-NY-27, said he has heard from some officials reopening could be pushed as late as 2021 but that would be "unfortunate." He said he believes there are ways to do things safely and the decision has an impact not just on the WNY economy but that of southern Ontario.
"We've demonstrated the ability to do it, as they have. I think it's the time to start to reopen and get us back to have our commerce go. We are two nations but one region and one region certainly economically and this has been really harmful for both," Jacobs said.
A poll released last week by Canadian-based firm Research Co. found that nine of ten Canadians agreed with keeping the border closed to non-essential travel. The ban has been in place since late March.
Citizens of both countries can still go back and forth by plane.