Highlands East is asking the federal government to keep the Canada-U.S. border closed to most traffic to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Council passed a resolution July 14 asking the government to maintain its current stance of keeping the border heavily restricted, noting how much the virus is spreading in the U.S. The resolution will be circulated to upper levels of government and asks the feds to keep the status quo until the U.S. can control the disease as Canada has.
“The U.S. has not slowed the spread of COVID-19 and cases continue to grow at a much more significant rate than Canada,” the resolution said. “Canadians across the country, including Highlands East, have made and continue to make many sacrifices to slow the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the risk to each other.”
Governments have kept the borders closed to most traffic since March 21. The federal government has extended that until at least Aug. 21. Twenty-nine members of U.S. congress penned a letter July 3 asking for the two governments to make a framework for a phased reopening “based on objective metrics” versus extending the restrictions in 30-day intervals.
Coun. Suzanne Partridge lamented the impact of the closure on U.S. cottagers. “We really, really value our property owners in Highlands East whose permanent residence is in the United States,” Partridge said. “Really regret we are feeling we have to request this, but I feel it’s very important for our community.”
Deputy Mayor Cec Ryall said concerns remain about a free and open border right now. But he added it would be appropriate for the government to provide more information on what needs to happen for the border to reopen.
“What most of us are concerned about is the free and open exchange of people for cross-border shopping,” Ryall said. “There doesn’t seem to be, in my mind, any scrutiny that basically says when they get to this level, you’ll be able to do it. I strongly support this resolution for some kind of clarity.”