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End vaccination mandate at Canada-US border, New York senator urges White House

A prominent New York senator is joining the ranks of American lawmakers who want the White House to end vaccination rules at the Canada-US land border.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Brian Higgins, Democrats both, have written to urge President Joe Biden to "reciprocate" Canada's new COVID-19 border policy.

Gillibrand says businesses, hospitals and medical suppliers in New York have been suffering throughout the pandemic as a result of border restrictions.

Canada dropped its vaccination requirement for visiting foreign nationals last week, and made it optional for travellers to use the controversial ArriveCan app.

<who> Photo credit: Canadian Press

Gillibrand is only the latest US lawmaker to put pressure on the Biden administration to lift vaccine rules for visiting foreigners.

Higgins and Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, want the Department of Homeland Security to drop the requirement as soon as possible.

"We urge the United States to reciprocate the policy of our Canadian neighbours by easing our own COVID-19 restrictions for the sake of our northern border communities and their economies," Gillibrand and Higgins write in their letter.

Both Canada and the US have seen "significant declines" in their COVID-19 caseloads and death rates, in part thanks to the work the two countries have done together to manage their shared interests, it reads.

"We believe now is the most opportune moment to ease restrictions that would once again unleash the northern border economy, reunite friends, families, and colleagues across the border, and continue the US-Canada partnership that has been crucial for both of our nations' successes."

The letter even quotes federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos saying Canada is at the point it can "safely lift" the border vaccination measures.

"The United States must reciprocate this decision and allow Canadians to enter the country without requiring the reporting of an individual's vaccination status."

White House officials will only say that no changes to US land border procedures are imminent.

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