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The U.S. and Canadian governments have announced that existing restrictions on non-essential travel across the border, due to expire on April 21, have been extended to May 21.

"This was entirely expected," notes Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. "Given circumstances in Canada, there is no reason to expect any significant change in the near future, though we will continue to call on both governments to step up planning for the ways forward, including some potential adjustments ahead of summer for those who are vaccinated."

Douglas notes that "there continue to be spikes in Ontario and Quebec with curfews and other restrictions, including closure on Monday of the Ontario-Quebec border to all but essential travel. And at the same time, the Canadian vaccination process is months behind the U.S. with Quebec still focusing on age 55 and older as an example. It seems increasingly likely we will not see major changes for summer, though we are still calling for some possible modest adjustments to accommodate near border property and boat owners, some additional allowance for business related travel, and more support for family connections, limited for now to the vaccinated if they wish."

"As we have pointed out, we need a sense of greater urgency around this matter from both governments," says Douglas. "The U.S.-Canada relationship is unique in the world but is based upon people-to-people connectivity, not government to government. Enormous and long-lasting damage is being done and this all deserves stronger attention and commitment, so we don't just drift in place for months to come without a sense of progress and hope."

The Chamber reports that it is working actively to encourage more dialogue and discussion cross border to focus greater attention on the impacts and possible ways forward. This includes a webinar on April 28th sponsored by the FCCQ (Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Quebec) and the North Country Chamber featuring former Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Rep. Elise Stefanik, co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus in Congress. The Chamber is also working with the Can/Am Border Trade Alliance on two days of virtual border related programming on May 3-4. The North Country Chambe is also in communication with the Wilson Center in Washington which has a bi-national task force developing recommendations and with the Council of State Governments whose Canada-U.S. Relations Committee is co-chaired by Assemblyman Billy Jones.