SACKETS HARBOR, N.Y. (WWTI) — The top democratic leader paid a visit to the North Country on Tuesday following the July Fourth holiday weekend.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer visited the Lake Ontario village of Sackets Harbor to specifically discuss the ongoing Northern Border restrictions on non-essential travel and its impacts to local tourist-driven economies.
“The border is very important,” emphasized Senator Schumer.
“Millions of tourists come here every summer. Many people have homes and friends in Canada, who they used to routinely cross the border to. Businesses depend on the cross-border activities. So we really depend on this border. About 2 million tourists visit the north country from Canada every summer. So it’s very important, but unfortunately it’s been closed, not because so much of the United States, but because of Canada.”
Adding, “But we shouldn’t be suffering. And frankly, a lot of the Canadian people shouldn’t be suffering.”
To address this ongoing closure, Senator Schumer previously requested the United States and Canada to form a bilateral agreement, which would allow vaccinated residents from both countries to cross the border.
Schumer continued by stating that he has talked to the United States Director of Homeland Security and the United States Secretary of State, both of whom he claimed were on board with this plan.
However, Schumer noted that he also talked to the Canadian Ambassador who was not in approval of the plan due to “internal conflicts.”
Noting this disapproval, Senator Schumer announced that he is now prepared to move forward without the Canadian government.
“Today I’m declaring that it’s time for the United States to take action, even without the Canadian government,” stated the Senator. “So if a bilateral agreement is not reached by July 21, that’s the day that we asked them to come up with a new agreement, the United States should unilaterally allow vaccinated Canadian citizens with family property, tourism, education, business interests, medical interests to be allowed to cross the line.”
According to Schumer, this plan would expand the definition of essential travel to vaccinated Canadian citizens with family, property, educational, medical, tourism or business interests.
He concluded by stating:
“We can now occupy football, stadiums, and theaters and restaurants. For people who are vaccinated, we can certainly develop a plan where people could cross the border.”
Restrictions on non-essential travel between the two countries was recently extended to July 21, 2021. The Northern Border has been closed since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.