The mayor of Sarnia, Ont., which borders Port Huron, Mich., is anticipating that border restrictions announced by the United States government on Wednesday will extend beyond Aug. 21.
Mayor Mike Bradley is also expressing frustration with what he sees as a lack of cooperation from the U.S. in working toward jointly reopening the Canada-U.S. border.
The U.S. Homeland Security Department said on Wednesday that land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another 30 days, until Aug. 21.
The announcement came two days after Canada announced that American citizens and permanent residents who want to come to Canada for non-essential reasons and who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to do so starting on Aug. 9.
Bradley said he and the other border city mayors were informed by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair about the U.S. border restrictions for Canada.
“It shocked us,” Bradley told Global News. “We expected because we closed the borders together — for very valid reasons — that when we went to reopen the borders, we would do it together.”
“My impression from the call I was on the other day listening to (Blair), was that his counterpart in the States was saying this could be much more than 30 days.”
However, Bradley said he has no indication of how much longer those border restrictions for Canadians travelling to the U.S. could extend.
Even once restrictions lift for Americans travelling to Canada on Aug. 9, he believes it will take time for many people to feel comfortable travelling across the border and willing to adhere to additional requirements to allow them to cross the border, such as providing proof of vaccination through the ArriveCAN smartphone app or web portal.
“I think it’s going to be like what’s happening with the general reopening in our own communities. I think it’s going to take a while for any momentum to build on that,” he said.
“We’ve struggled for years since 9/11 with the passport rules that were brought in to get Americans over here. I’m pleased for my colleagues in Niagara Falls, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Stratford, because they really need this because of their huge dependence on the tourism sector,” Bradley said.
“But I do think it’s going to take time especially — and we pointed this out to the minister — with all the things they’ll have to do to get the apps and all that. We found in the past, it’s sometimes hard to attract Americans if there’s any impediments to what they have to do to cross that border.”
Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the U.S. were imposed in March 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then, the land border has been closed to all non-essential travel. However, the U.S. has allowed Canadians to fly in, while Canada has not allowed Americans to do the same.
— with files from Reuters and Global News’ Amanda Connolly.
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