Canada border closed

‘Non-essential’ traffic targeted

The border between Canada and the United States has been temporarily closed to “non-essential” traffic to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning.

“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!”

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, who represents northern New York in Congress, expressed immediate concern about hospital and health care workers who live in Canada and work in the U.S. She said they will be exempted.

“I just got off the phone with Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Wolf,” she said in a press release late Wednesday morning. “Hospital and healthcare workers on NAFTA visas will be exempt from the border closure and can continue their important work serving North Country hospitals and communities. We are grateful for their public service providing medical care.”

The North Country Chamber of Commerce said its has been expecting this step for several days and has been in contact with members of Congress about it. Canada-U.S. trade is a major priority for the Plattsburgh-based organization.

“We welcome clear indications from both governments that neither of them wishes to interrupt the massive daily trading relationship, so we are expecting that trucking activity will continue, preserving the vital cross border supply chains for North Country manufacturers,” the North Country Chamber said in a press release. “We are also assured that all forms of reasonable essential travel will be allowed to continue. We have asked for explicit recognition of the hundreds of nurses and physicians from Canada who commute daily to North Country hospitals, clinics and medical practices. These are about as essential as you can get. We know there are conversations regarding other daily matters as well such as emergency services cross border.”

The chamber added, “The impact on cross border recreation and shopping is already largely here already, and the Chamber is working actively and aggressively to provide member businesses across the region with daily information updates, guidance and upcoming webinars on relevant topics. All of this is being posted to our website at northcountrychamber.com.”

State Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Plattsburgh, said in a press release, “I’m working diligently with local and state officials, as well as our federal representatives, to ensure this action doesn’t prevent those working in the medical field, and those critical to our trade industry, from doing their jobs. It’s more important than ever that our hospitals and health care providers have the staff they need to manage the influx of patients and work together to provide the best quality of care possible in the face of this unprecedented public health threat. It is equally important that our region, continue to be able to manufacture and transport necessary goods that are critical for our daily lives.”


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