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Not opening Canadian border to all is wrong

Welcome to the Canadian province of Quebec, just over the Vermont border. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

While the Canadian government said Monday it would open the border to Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Aug. 9, it left us wondering if Canadians could soon be able to cross into the U.S. and resume their “non-essential” travel — meaning tourism could begin again after more than a year of the coronavirus pandemic.

No dice. We learned Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was extending the travel ban for the Canadian and Mexican borders for another month, at least until Aug. 21.

That’s frustrating from a tourism perspective, but it also doesn’t make sense that both governments couldn’t agree on just opening the border for vaccinated residents.

The U.S. decision drew the ire of Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, who issued a statement on Wednesday. And we agree with her.

“President Biden’s failure to reopen the northern border, especially given Canada’s recent decision to reopen the border to fully vaccinated American travelers in August, is absolutely and unequivocally unacceptable,” she said. “This failure of the Biden Administration to reopen our Northern Border is devastating to North Country families, businesses, and communities who were hopeful that the United States would reciprocate on Canada’s decision to restore travel across the border. It is clear that the Biden Administration has failed the North Country.”

Likewise, North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said he was “dumbfounded” by the U.S. decision.

“This is deeply disappointing, not only because it leaves no opportunity to save part of the summer season for Canadian travel here, though by the way they can continue to fly here but just can’t drive their car, but because it stalls the access by Canadians to family, property, businesses and airports while Canada is opening the way for such needed access the other way,” he said.