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5/18/2021   - Assemblyman Jones, North Country Chamber of Commerce hold joint press conference on the impact of the border closure and solutions to safely reopen

***Press Release***

Assemblyman Jones, North Country Chamber of Commerce hold joint press conference on the impact of the border closure and solutions to safely reopen

Assemblyman Billy Jones (D- Chateaugay Lake) joined local business leaders and families impacted by the United States-Canada for a press conference at the North Country Chamber of Commerce to call on the federal government and New York State to  start making steps to allow a phased reopening of the border and to expand eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to Canadian essential travelers. Other border states have started to vaccinate essential travelers who are currently permitted to cross the border to help Canadians get vaccinated sooner.[1] The border closure that has lasted over a year has kept families apart, and negatively impacted local businesses that depend on their loyal Canadian customers.

“We need to start a phased approach in reopening the US-Canada border, ” Jones said. “Families have been separated for too long, and exceptions must be made to allow second homeowners return to their properties. North Country businesses also have been patiently waiting for the border to reopen. Vaccinating Canadians who are permitted to cross the border will also help make progress toward reopening the border. Vaccine distribution across the North Country has been efficient and residents who wish to be vaccinated have been able to do so. As state distribution sites continue to accept walk-ins, there is no reason why New York State could not join other border states in helping Canadians get vaccinated. Getting people on both sides of the border vaccinated is an important step in getting the border reopened, and New York has the means to help our northern neighbors during this time of need.”

“The number one way we can directly help move the needle toward eventual progress at our border for non-essential travelers is to help maximize vaccination levels in both countries,” said Garry Douglas, President and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “It is in our interest as a state and certainly as a region to find ways to help in this regard, and opening vaccinations here for Canadian essential border crossers who haven't yet been reached in Quebec and Ontario and are traveling here regularly for essential purposes is good for everyone. It's the right thing to do as neighbors and hopefully will be seen by the Canadian Government as another sign of U.S. friendship, just as Canadians helped us after 9/11 and following other disasters, encouraging the start of bi-national planning for the way forward. We're pleased to join with Assemblyman Jones in this call for state and county support in this regard, and we thank the Assemblyman for his leadership in all cross-border matters.”

John Momot, owner of Blue Haven Campground, discussed how the border closure has been hurting his business and his Canadian customers, “With 65% of our seasonal guests from Canada, the border closing has had a direct impact on our campground. The lack of revenue is even more devastating to the local businesses in the area like restaurants, hardware stores, and grocery stores. This has not been easy on our Canadian guests either, as they love our community! I am sure they find it especially unsettling to own property here that they are unable to utilize. Some of these families have been coming down here for many years. The longer the border remains closed, the higher the likelihood is that our Canadian guests may decide not to return at all.”

“The families who have been separated for over a year, and the North Country businesses, including many small businesses in our communities, who all depend on Canadian customers deserve tangible action being made by our governments to reopen the border,” Jones concluded. “It is time for both federal governments to consider reopening under a phased approach so that people in the North Country can see their loved ones who live across the border and second homeowners are able to return to their homes. If Canadians who are permitted to cross the border are allowed to get vaccinated in New York, it will bring us one step closer to finally reopening the border.”