Despite Canadian easing, US extends land border restrictions

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 4:29 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 8:00 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - The U.S. will keep its land borders closed for another 30 days. The announcement comes just days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada will open its border to vaccinated travelers starting Aug. 9.

People on both sides of the border and both sides of the aisle are frustrated over the news.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says the extension is due to COVID rates in both Canada and Mexico, and says the risk of spread poses a “specific threat to human life or national interests.”

“Two different borders, two different realities,” said Eric Tremblay of Montreal.

We first introduced you to Tremblay at the end of June when he paid a heavy price tag to fly a charter plane to the Plattsburgh International Airport and have his car shuttled over the border so he could spend the summer on Lake Champlain.

The Canadian citizen says being able to travel into the country by air and not by land doesn’t seem right.

“It seemed that you know, if you had money in your pocket to pay for a ticket, you were less at risk than somebody that needed to drive across the border,” Tremblay said.

He questions the calls from lawmakers just weeks ago to the Canadian government to open the border.

“Where are all the politicians that were claiming the Canadian government was dragging its feet?” he wondered. “A lot of people had anticipated that this would be, you know, when the Canadian government moves, the U.S. government will follow along.”

Many local lawmakers in both New York and Vermont have called on the federal government to reconsider the extension.

Sen. Chuck Schumer continues his calls to reopen the border, saying in part, “It is critical for the United States to level the playing field and create a uniform system, following the science and data, to safely-- and finally-- reopen the border for those vaccinated.”

“Canada is now far ahead of us and that should be embarrassing,” said Garry Douglas, the president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce.

Douglas says the news of the U.S. continuing its restrictions on essential travel left him shocked.

“There is a 100% absence of transparency, of conversation, of consultation,” Douglas said.

He says the work continues to push the federal government to make some kind of opening before the Aug. 21 extension date.

“Start now with just some expansions of the essential travel categories,” Douglas said.

He says the ongoing closure will continue to be detrimental to families, businesses and the North Country economy, and there doesn’t seem to be any budging from the Department of Homeland Security.

“Those things are causing lasting damage and it’s becoming more and more the norm rather than an exception,” Douglas said.

There have been a lot of questions circulating about travel requirements.

In order to get into Canada, you do need to be fully vaccinated and show proof through a Canadian app, Arrive Can. And you need a negative COVID test 72 hours before arriving at the border.

As for the U.S. requirements for a U.S. citizen coming back from Canada by land, Customs and Border Protection says it follows all CDC requirements.

I reached out to the CDC for its updated requirements. They say not to travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, you should follow the CDC’s international travel recommendations for unvaccinated people. As for the land port of entry, Americans are not required to get tested before returning if they are driving, but it is recommended after travel. Click here for all the latest requirements from the CDC.

Related Stories:

Fully vaccinated Americans will soon be able to go to Canada

Canada to let vaccinated US citizens enter country on Aug. 9

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