Canada to drop testing for short trips | News, Sports, Jobs – The Adirondack Daily Enterprise

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A sign points the way to the Canadian border crossing near the Rouses Point United States Border Inspection Station. (Provided photo — Ben Rowe, Press-Republican)

PLATTSBURGH — The North Country Chamber of Commerce Wednesday night welcomed news that Canada was finalizing a change to its testing mandate that would lift the pricey and pesky requirement for returning Canadians who visit the states for less than 72 hours.

Though the U.S. does not have a testing requirement for Canadians traveling south of the northern border into the U.S., anyone traveling into Canada, even fully vaccinated Canadians returning home, must show proof of a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of crossing in order to enter the country.

The change, which has no known start date, is expected to absolve Canadians making short visits into the U.S. of that requirement.

“While not initially including vaccinated Americans, we are extremely pleased that our Canadian friends, neighbors and partners will soon be spared the costly test requirement when making casual visits for a day or a few days to recreate, shop, visit family and friends or conduct business, moving back toward normalcy,” North Country Chamber President Garry Douglas says in a statement.

“And in time for the holidays!”

Border rules

In addition to the proof of negative PCR test, travelers crossing the land border into Canada must also be fully vaccinated, except in specific circumstances, and use the mobile ArriveCan app.

The change is not expected to clear Americans of the testing requirement.

Douglas said the chamber will seek the earliest possible implementation of further steps until Canada and the U.S. have consistent border crossing requirements. The U.S. currently requires travelers into the U.S. only to be fully vaccinated.

“But we thank the Canadian Government for listening and taking action sooner than we thought might happen,” Douglas says. “And we thank all of our partners in advocacy including the FCCQ and other business organizations in Canada, and all of our federal and state representatives who have been determined and have been heard.”

‘Step in right direction’

Since the U.S. reopened its land border earlier this month, local officials have criticized Canada’s testing requirement, saying it stopped Canadians from making short-term visits and day trips.

Last week, the North Country Chamber of Commerce and its Quebec counterpart, the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ), in a letter jointly called upon the Canadian Government to cease the requirement, calling it unnecessary and “no longer based on any real threat.”

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) also advocated to abolish the requirement in a letter addressed to Canadian Minister of Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair.

Stefanik also spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his visit to Washington Wednesday regarding the need for the earliest possible implementation of the phases and he is in New York City for activities with the Canadian Consulate General, Douglas noted.

Assemblyman D. Billy Jones (D-Chateauguay Lake) and Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman noted Wednesday that they had long supported parity in Can-Am border crossing policies, and said recent reports on the incoming change were welcome.

“The burdensome testing requirement has prevented day trippers and short-term visitors from coming to the North Country, and our regional economies have suffered long enough due to the border closure and it is past time that these requirements were adjusted,” Assemblyman Jones said.

“I will continue advocating for lifting the requirements for Americans.”

Supervisor Cashman noted, “The fact is border communities on both the United States and Canada benefit from short-term visitors: socially, culturally and economically. We still have some steps to go but this another step in the right direction.”

‘Celebrate this step’

The chamber noted the work and advocacy of Congresswoman Stefanik, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Assemblyman Jones and Sen. Dan Stec (R-Queensbury), among others.

“Nothing is more important to the North Country economy than its economic interactions with Canada of all kinds at all levels, and so our advocacy efforts regarding the border have been non-stop and will continue to be so, even as we celebrate this very positive next step.”

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