As of 21MAR, it will be one year since the U.S.-Canada border was closed due to the pandemic, but don’t make American travel plans any time soon.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waved away suggestions Monday that Canada is prepared to explore reopening its shared border with the United States, while some observers ask if he even has a plan.
“We’re all eager to be able to travel again, but I think we’re all going to wait patiently until such time as the health situation allows us to loosen border restrictions internationally. That’ll be eventually, but not for today,” Trudeau said at a press conference in Montreal.
The question now is, under what conditions will both governments agree that it is time to reopen the world’s longest undefended border? The truth is that there is no plan, wrote CBC News’ Alexander Panetta in an analysis of the situation.
“Conversations with officials in both countries in recent days revealed that, even as vaccinations ramp up, neither government has defined what it will take to reopen the border,” he wrote.
“They say there’s no secret document laying out such benchmarks — such as, for example, the number of vaccine doses required for a return to normal, or the number of coronavirus cases reported,” continued Panetta.
Meanwhile, members of the U.S. Congress from border states have written to U.S. President Joe Biden, demanding a plan that will allow the border to gradually reopen.
One of the lead authors of the letter is Brian Higgins, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from Buffalo, N.Y. He wants the border to be partially reopened by U.S. Memorial Day, 31MAY, then fully reopened by 04JUL, assuming certain health conditions are met.
“I don’t see any reason why loved ones who have been separated for a year; property owners; people that live in Buffalo that own a cottage in Crystal Beach, Ont.; business owners — why shouldn’t they be able to cross the border safely,” Higgins told CBC.
“So long as they certify that they’re going to do certain things: certify that you’ve been vaccinated, certify that you’re going to wear a mask, certify that you’re going to practice good physical distancing.”
The latest border restriction against non-essential travel is set to expire on 21APR, but has been renewed every month like clockwork since last year. Higgins and his allies, including here in Canada, want to make sure that pattern is broken sooner rather than later.