If an airplane full of Canadians can fly from Toronto to New York for some sightseeing, why can’t someone from Saint Stephen drive to Calais — to do the things they’ve always done in Calais?

The Biden administration’s policy toward the northern border just makes no sense at all. The president could and should open the border today. He should by no means extend the restrictions on land travel from Canada past the end date of his latest order, Oct. 21.

On Aug. 9, Canada opened its border to fully vaccinated visitors for nonessential travel. Starting Sept. 20, Canadians have been allowed to fly into the U.S. as long as they could show they were fully vaccinated and had a negative test within three days of departure.

But Canadians are still not allowed to travel into the U.S. through border crossings. So while Canadians can fly into any U.S. airport where there’s a connection, for any purpose whatsoever, they cannot drive into American communities that in some cases are literally next door, and where they often have close ties built up over years.

The policy is hurting border communities from Point Roberts, Washington, to the most easterly points in Maine which rely on Canadians to boost their retail and tourism industries.

In Point Roberts, where 85% of commerce comes from Canada, officials have put in place an emergency grant program to save markets and other businesses who remain unsure of when their customers will be able to return.

Burlington, Vermont, continues to miss Canadian visitors who come across Lake Champlain. Upstate New York is in much the same predicament.

Although not along the border, Old Orchard Beach this summer had smaller-than-expected crowds without the usual tourists from the north.

“Each day that passes without resolution is a hit to family farmers and ranchers, small businesses, and the rural communities along the border,” Sen. Jon Tester wrote in a Sept. 17 letter to President Biden, which was signed by seven other senators, including Maine Sen. Angus King.

The continued closure of the northern border has brought bipartisan criticism, including from all four members of Maine’s congressional delegation, but also border-state Republicans and Democrats from both the House and Senate.

The pressure has not pulled any more clarity out of the Biden administration, which did not explain the Sept. 20 extension of the border rules, except to say that they were aimed at “how to safely and sustainably resume normal travel.”

That leaves everyone wondering just what has to happen for the administration to deem Canadian travelers safe to enter by road. With 78% of the country vaccinated, Canada has a comfortable lead on the U.S., and its daily case average is not much higher than our daily death toll. By those measurements, a Canadian traveler, particularly one who is properly vetted, is a pretty safe bet.

Of course, those same Canadians can enter by air, just highlighting the absurdity of the situation.

There’s no good argument for keeping the policy. The Biden administration should open the Canadian border, fully, as soon as possible.


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