Governors of nine states neighboring Canada asked the Biden administration Friday to explain why the U.S. intends to keep the northern border closed to nonessential travel for at least a few more weeks.
The bipartisan group of governors wrote the secretaries of state and homeland security requesting a briefing about ongoing COVID-19-related travel restrictions impacting the U.S.-Canadian border.
Canada recently announced it will allow U.S. citizens who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, to enter the country for non-essential travel effective Aug. 9.
However, the Biden administration subsequently announced several days later the U.S. will continue to temporarily limit the travel of individuals from Canada into the country through at least Aug. 21.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s recent announcement that it will extend restrictions on nonessential travel at land and ferry crossings with Canada conflicts with Canada’s move to open the border to vaccinated Americans and is deepening the already significant economic impacts of the pandemic on northern border communities and states,” the group of governors wrote in the letter.
“This in turn is causing our constituents – many the owners and employees of small, family businesses desperate to resume operations – to ask us how and when cross-border economic activity will resume in a safe and sustainable manner,” wrote the governors of Alaska, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Vermont and Washington – nine of 13 states that neighbor Canada.
DHS and the Department of State did not immediately respond to inquiries about the letter.
The land border between the U.S. and Canada is over 5,550 miles in length, making it the longest in the world. It has been closed to non-essential travel since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in March 2020.
In their letter, the group of governors – 6 Republicans, 3 Democrats – said they wanted officials to brief them about their justification for keeping the border closed and what it would take to reopen it.
“At this point in the nation’s work to get the economy back on track, it is imperative that the federal government work more closely and transparently with us and our Canadian provincial counterparts to quickly define and implement a reopening plan,” the governors wrote. “We have no doubt such a plan can ensure the safety and welfare of American citizens during this ever-changing pandemic landscape.”
More than 55% of Canada is fully vaccinated, according to the government there. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 49.5% of the American population is fully vaccinated.