PLATTSBURGH — When the U.S. and Canadian border reopened to non-essential travel in November, the North Country was finally getting that taste of normalcy again.
On Wednesday, that normalcy was threatened with more potential border restrictions.
The Canadian government contemplated restricting non-essential travel to the U.S. after one month of freer flowing traffic.
After much deliberation throughout the day, Canadians reportedly are instead being told to avoid traveling across the border, but it is not a restriction.
The border remains open, for now.
News of no further restrictions was welcome in the North Country.
"While the Canadian Government has been actively considering possible new restrictions on international travel, we are pleased that for the time being at least, they have decided to advise Canadians not to travel internationally, but are not changing current requirements at the land border," North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said.
"Our Canadian friends may still visit for up to 72 hours without a test, and Americans can still visit Canada with use of the ArriveCan app and a PCR test. We welcome this restraint."
Douglas noted that communications were intense throughout Wednesday as the Canadian Government was determining what actions it might take or not take.
"We thank our friends and partners on both sides of the border for their continued engagement and advocacy," he said.
‘A SLAP IN THE FACE’
State Assemblyman D. Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) said he was concerned about possible further restrictions.
“The border just reopened in November and it is troubling that there is already discussion about implementing new border restrictions to close it again," Jones said.
"This is a slap in the face to everyone in the North Country. The North Country cannot afford another border closure, especially local businesses that depend on Canadian customers. After almost two years, people were just finally able to cross the border to see their loved ones and it is heartbreaking that they might be restricted from crossing the border once again.
"It is possible to keep the border open in a safe manner, and I will continue to advocate for the border to stay open."
State Sen. Daniel Stec (R-Queensbury) shared Jones's concerns.
“Keeping the northern border open to all is important for our economy and to many families on both sides of the border,” Stec said.
"While challenges remain in the battle against COVID-19, tremendous progress has been made against it. It was just last month the border reopened for travel coming into the U.S. and that was after many months of frustration with a Biden administration that repeatedly failed to offer a plan based on any sort of metrics.
"Talks of again limiting travel between the U.S. and Canada in either direction would be a big step backwards.”
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