U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is backing a full reopening of the Canadian border, urging the Biden administration to allow non-essential travel of vaccinated Canadians into the country.
The push by Gillibrand comes as the federal government extended the ban on non-essential travel over ports of entry and land crossings from Canada to Oct. 21 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic this week.
New York officials, both Democrats and Republicans, over the last several months have called on the federal government to fully allow Canadian travel once again, pointing to the economic damage the ban has caused, especially for upstate businesses.
The border closure is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $1.5 billion a month. In western New York, it's an annual hit of as much as $855 million.
“New York and Canada have a valuable economic partnership that has been deeply affected by travel restrictions put in place to prioritize the health and safety of so many New Yorkers who live along the border. However, the circumstances have changed and it’s time to allow fully vaccinated Canadians to travel safely into the United States across the northern border,” Gillibrand said. “Countless New Yorkers and medical providers depend on travel across the northern border to stay afloat. I am encouraged by President Biden’s announcement to ease travel restrictions in the EU, UK, and parts of Asia starting in November, and I encourage the administration to make reopening the Canadian land border a top priority.”
Gillibrand, along with several Democrats in the U.S. Senate, called on the Biden administration in a letter this month to lift the restrictions and also create a public reopening plan for Canadians who have been vaccinated through an interagency effort.