March 16, 2022 by Andrea LaForest

PLATTSBURGH | North Country lawmakers, business advocates and residents alike warmly welcomed word that Canada will drop its current testing requirements for vaccinated travelers starting April 1.

The change in Canadian policy was announced March 17 and came as long-awaited and welcomed local news.

The North Country Chamber of Commerce said Canada will drop its current requirement of a negative antigen COVID test for both vaccinated Americans to enter Canada at the land border and for vaccinated Canadians to return home even after short U.S. visits.

“This is the major step we and so many of our partners in both countries have been calling for,” said Chamber President Garry Douglas.

“It will bring Canada into alignment with U.S. policy since November, allowing fully vaccinated Canadians to enter the U.S. Most Canadians and Americans who are fully vaccinated, defined by Canada as two doses, will now be able to move back and forth with ease. And it is a major advance after going so long with two different sets of policies to once again have the U.S. and Canada largely in sync at what has long been a shared border.”

Those who cross the border into Canada will still be required to download the Arrive Can app with their vaccination information, and to use that app to pre-report their cross-border travel before arrival, chamber officials said.

“We thank the Canadian government for this long hoped for development, beginning the process of mending the two-year separation that has so impacted the special social connection between our two peoples. Let us all now begin to restore this historic people-to-people connection.”

Sen. Dan Stec said the move is a necessary step toward restoring the economic and social relationship between the two nations.

”The U.S.-Canadian border has been closed or severely restricted for nearly two full years, and this has caused difficulties for thousands of people in both countries,” Stec said.

“Dropping the border test requirement is a first, necessary step toward restoring normal relations and getting the economy of both nations back on track. In the days and weeks to come, I urge both the United States and Canada to continue taking action to fully reopen our border.”

Following the highly applauded announcement, Assemblyman Billy Jones said “For months I have joined local business and community leaders to advocate for the testing requirements to be the same on both sides of the border and finally we are taking a step in the right direction.

“Lifting the testing requirement for vaccinated travelers is great news for the North Country- so many residents will now be able to see their family and friends who live across the border and day-trippers can finally return to our region to patronize local businesses. The marinas and campgrounds that have been nearly empty the past two years will now be full again and all the local businesses will be able to welcome our northern neighbors back to the North Country with open arms. We are finally moving toward the right direction to return to normalcy at our border, and I look forward to seeing our Canadian friends once again.”

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik called the decision a “positive step forward for our Upstate New York and North Country families, tourism, and small businesses” but said more needs to be done.

“However, there is still more work left to do to fully restore our communities. I’m calling on the United States to lead the path forward by dropping all COVID-19 requirements and fully restore Northern Border travel, and Canada should follow. It’s time to return to normalcy.”

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