|The U.S. says it will extend its current land border restrictions until Aug. 21, days after the Canadian government announced it would permit fully vaccinated Americans travelling into the country for discretionary purposes as of Aug. 9.
In a notice posted to the Federal Register by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), officials wrote that the threat of COVID-19 transmission remains too high to ease measures.
“Given the outbreak and continued transmission and spread of COVID-19 within the United States and globally, the Secretary has determined that the risk of continued transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID-19 between the United States and Canada poses an ongoing ‘specific threat to human life or national interests,’” the update reads.
The restrictions that allow only essential travel across the land border were set to expire Wednesday. Canadians who wish to travel to the U.S. can still do so by air but must submit a negative COVID-19 test three days prior to departure or proof from a licensed health-care provider that they have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Wednesday that he had been advised by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security of the intention to renew the border restrictions that have been in place since March, 2020.
“Part of the relationship between ourselves and our colleagues and friends in the United States is an approach with no surprises at the border. Our work has always been collaborative, cooperative and very candid. We’re working very well together,” Blair said.
U.S. travellers who plan to enter Canada as of 12:01 a.m. EDT on Aug. 9 must have completed a full vaccination course with one of the four approved vaccines in Canada – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca or Johnson Johnson – at least 14 days prior to arrival. They will be exempt from quarantine and post-arrival testing unless randomly selected.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it’s not up to Canada to “dictate” how and when the U.S. decides to reopen its border to Canadians and that the response to border measures from both governments has been “asymmetric” since the start of the pandemic.
“I think every country should and does set its own border policies. We have been working with the United States to keep them informed to make sure that as much as possible our choices are aligned, but you will have seen, everyone will have seen that our countries took different approaches certainly during the beginning of the pandemic,” he said.
New York Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins told CTV News Channel on Wednesday that he’s disappointed by the Biden administration’s decision to extend the restrictions.
“It’s unacceptable. The fact of the matter is we have been admonished by our Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by the federal government in the United States to follow the science and the science says if you are fully vaccinated you could return to pre-pandemic activity,” he said, adding that the administration has failed to be transparent about the reasoning behind their decision.
Perrin Beatty, the president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, also shared his discontent with the move.
“On February 23 U.S. President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau issued a ‘Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership’ stating ‘Both leaders agreed to take a coordinated approach based on science and public health criteria when considering measures to ease Canada-U.S. border restrictions in the future.’ Less than five months later, Washington appears to have lost its copy,” he said in a statement to CTVNews.ca
“In contrast with its commitment, the U.S. decision is uncoordinated with Canada’s announcement on Monday of a border reopening, and it flies in the face of both science and the most recent public health data.”