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Canada-US border will stay closed another month

The U.S.-Canada border will remain closed for non-essential travel for a 14th month, at least until May 21, to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

That extension goes right up to the start of Canada’s Victoria Day long weekend, which normally is a time when many Canadians get away to places such as New York’s Adirondack Park. The significant spending that tourism brings to many North Country communities is now very much in doubt, and it is uncertain whether Canadian visitors will be able to come to the U.S. at all this summer.

Canada is seeing a third wave of infections, particularly in Ontario, which recently enacted a stay-home order.

Northern New York politicians have long been calling for a plan on how to reopen the border in phases, but so far that has not happened. New York state Assemblyman Billy Jones, a Democrat from Chateaugay Lake near the border, issued a statement Tuesday calling the situation “truly frustrating.”

“This continues to have a significant impact on our regional economy, and action must be taken to ensure this vital lifeline to our friends and families is safely opened,” Jones said. “As co-chair of CSG East’s Canada-U.S. Relations Committee, I’m working with local officials and stakeholders, including the North Country Chamber of Commerce, as well as our neighbors to find ways to safely reopen our borders.”

Crossing the border is allowed for trade or commuting, which are considered essential, and citizens of each country are allowed to enter that country, with restrictions. But the border has been closed for closed for non-essential travel since March 21, 2020, shortly after the pandemic broke out in North America.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also extending travel restrictions that make it mandatory for air travelers to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense when they arrive in Canada.

He’s also thanking the country’s two major airlines for extending a voluntary suspension of flights to Mexico and all Caribbean destinations until May 21. The measures were first announced in January.

Trudeau is reiterating that now is not the time to travel. He says Canada’s strict travel, testing, and quarantine measures are extremely important. But he notes international travel directly accounts for a small amount of cases in Canada and those restrictions are just one tool to fight the pandemic.

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