This week’s announcement by officials in Canada about the extension of a cross-border ban amid concerns about the continued spread of COVID-19 led U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins to sum up the situation in one word: “Heartbreaking.”
The Democrat, who represents Niagara Falls and Buffalo and who serves as co-chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, said what is now the seventh extension of the non-essential travel ban on Americans crossing the Northern border is understandable given virus conditions in the U.S. yet difficult to accept from an economic standpoint.
“It’s heartbreaking to have the door to our closest neighbor closed for eight months but easy to see why Canada continues to make this decision,” Higgins said in a statement released by his office on Tuesday, one day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the border ban extension.
The border between the U.S. and Canada first closed due to the pandemic on March 24 and has been extended multiple times. The first extension was through May 20, then June 22, July 21, Aug. 21, and Sept. 21. Trudeau announced this week that the current order, which was set to expire Oct. 21, was extended through Nov. 21.
Trudeau told media outlets in Canada that he plans to keep the border closed as long as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continue to trend upward. He indicated that he did not “feel comfortable” reopening the border at this time.
In September, Trump suggested Canada would “like it open,” adding that opening the borders would happen “pretty soon” and that he wanted things to “get back to normal business.”
Higgins placed the blame on the ongoing border closure on the policies employed by President Donald Trump’s administration, noting that just this week Trump openly rejected scientistic facts while calling medical experts ‘idiots.’ Higgins predicted that by failing to endorse what he described as “common sense” health and safety protocols, Trump is continuing to promote an atmosphere where Americans are being seen as “unwelcome health threat to our allies around the world.
“The administration’s pandemic response, which lacks a coordinated, comprehensive strategy, is chaotic, irresponsible and embarrassing,” Higgins said. “Nevertheless, the American people have the power to turn this around, to look out for one another and to make sacrifices for the good of our community and the country.”