Border

There's was little activity at the Rainbow Bridge Monday evening with Canada allowing non-essential, vaccinated travelers into the country. (Matt Winterhalter photo)

It’s Thursday afternoon and we’re still waiting to here on a decision but with any luck, Saturday will be the day the United States sees the way clear to allow traffic to flow more freely between Canada and here.

But with COVID-19 cases rising fast due to the delta variant, don’t be surprised if the border stays closed for a while longer.

The deadline to keep the border closed has been extended month to month since it was first closed in the early days of the pandemic on March 21, 2020.

It’s been a long 17 months since then and we miss our Canadian neighbors and friends.

While commerce is often labeled as the main aspect of our U.S./Canadian relationship that is hurt the most, we suffer in other ways too.

Families have been kept apart and cultural, historical and athletic endeavors have been halted between the two nations.

Canada saw fit to reopen their border to allow us Americans to travel north with some restrictions on Aug. 9, and so far we’ve only heard positive reports from those who have ventured north — though mandates at the border the need for COVID-19 tests has limited the amount of traffic.

The Canadians are happy to have us American friends back in their midst.

At this point in the pandemic, we figured it would be time to reopen the border to all travel and we could get back to the days of seeing local parking lots crowded with vehicles sporting Ontario license plates.

Opening the border fully now may not be a wise choice many would say, given the COVID circumstances.

But there is a factor now in play that was not in the earlier days of the pandemic and that is vaccines.

About 62 percent of Canadians have been vaccinated and the numbers are good for our region as well.

Vaccines have been proven highly effective in keeping transmission rates low and preventing those who do test positive from getting seriously ill and winding up in the hospital.

With vaccines in place, it would seem possible that both governments can come up with safe ways to allow for travel between the countries despite the rising number of cases.

Canadians require proof of vaccine, proof of a negative COVID test and a few other steps in order to cross. These things take a little effort, but they are definitely easy enough to manage on the ArriveCAN app, and they will help keep people safe.

We could do the same or something similar here.

If the U.S. isn’t ready to fully reciprocate, can’t we at least start to modify our “essential” travel definitions so we can accommodate family, property owners, and a broader allowance for business travel?

And it would also be great to allow Canadian access to our airports given that Canadians can fly to Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. from Canadian airports, but can’t drive a few miles over the border and use our airports.

All it would take to make headway on border reopening is what most of us around here have been calling for now for the better part of a year: a plan.

— Plattsburgh Press Republican

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