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10/19/2020 - IN FACE OF FURTHER EXTENSION OF BORDER RESTRICTIONS, CHAMBER RENEWS CALL FOR PLAN AND DIALOGUE
In the face of a further thirty day extension of existing border crossing restrictions by the Canadian and U.S. governments to November 21, the North Country Chamber of Commerce is renewing its call for a plan for eventual transition to normal movement, including serious consideration of long proposed interim adjustments.
The further extension to November 21 was announced today in a Tweet by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.
"We have had no reason to expect any substantial relaxation in the status quo before the end of the year," states Garry Douglas, Chamber President. "But given the immense continuing impact in both countries and the importance of cross border connectivity to what remains the most special bi-national relationship in the world, we deserve to see some semblance of planning for eventual transition. On this front, we welcome Secretary Wolf's reference to 'working closely with Canada and Mexico to identify safe criteria to ease the restrictions in the future and support our border communities.' While non-specific, it at least looks toward a transition for the first time since March, and we will continue to seek serious consideration in the near term of adjustments that would, for example, accommodate near border property owners, some specific added forms of business travel in support of cross border commerce and investment, and further accommodations for family."
Douglas notes that the continued severe limitations on personal crossings will have a continuing impact on business in the North Country, particularly retail activity through the holiday season. "We can only encourage North Country residents to maintain their commitment to shopping and spending locally and push the computer mouse aside," says Douglas. "We are working with partners on fresh campaigns to encourage this. And we again call on Washington to finalize and approve a new COVID-19 relief bill that includes a second round of the PPP forgivable loan program for these impacted small businesses."
At the same time, Douglas expresses the Chamber's support for continued non-interference with cross border shipping. "The U.S.-Canadian economic partnership is about making things together to compete with the rest of the world, and our cross border supply chains are essential to the North Country economy in particular and to the country at large."