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As COVID-19 infections explode in the U.S., Canada resists pressure to reopen shared border

(NNP) As the United States battles the macabre surging of coronavirus infections and leads the world in deaths from the virus, a cross section of U.S. Congress has written to the Canadian government urging it to begin taking measures towards a phased reopening of the shared border.

In an open letter addressed to the Canadian minister for public safety, Bill Blair, 29 bipartisan members of the U.S. Congress led by Representative Brian Higgins, emphasized the need to begin easing existing measures that have so far allowed only essential travels across the borders. The letter read, “We are asking that the United States and Canada immediately craft a comprehensive framework for phased reopening of the border based on objective metrics and accounting for the varied circumstances across border regions.”

The letter authored by members of Congress who mostly represent communities in northern states with shared border with Canada, urges Canada to reconsider allowing those with family and properties in Canada entry into the country. The letter further states, “We understand the importance of prioritizing the safety of our communities as we all navigate the complex calculation of minimizing public health risks and resuming economic activity. However, the social and economic partnership between our two nations necessitates a clear pathway forward.”

But with the surging number of infections across the border and the careless and haphazard reopening exhibited by most of the U.S. states, Canada appears not to be in a hurry to reopen the borders. A spokesperson for the Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland, in a statement noted that any decision to reopen the border will be made with the health and safety of Canadians being paramount. The spokesperson, Katherine Cuplinskas, stated, “Decisions about Canada’s border are made by Canadians, for Canadians.”

The statement further reads, “Since the beginning of this global pandemic, we have been having friendly ongoing conversations with our American partners about our shared border. Both sides agree that the current measures in place, which are set to expire on July 21st, have worked well in restricting non-essential travel while allowing essential crossings to continue unimpeded.”

While Canada has managed its coronavirus cases with utmost urgency leading to a drastic reduction in the number of infections, most of the states in the U.S. have reverted to phase one due to non-adherence to basic public health advise such as the wearing of masks, the observance of physical distancing, the avoidance of mass gatherings and the like.

Critics of the reopening of the border have focused on poor American leadership in handling of the pandemic as responsible for the spike in cases at a time when most of the countries are witnessing reduced numbers and relaxing tough measures. One critic noted as an example the campaign rally held by President Trump in Tulsa, Oklahoma where physical distancing signs were removed and the wearing of mask not encouraged.

Another pointed to the recent July 4 event on Mount Rushmore where 7,500 people gathered in a pandemic without the enforcement of mask or physical distancing to listen to campaign speeches from the president. At that event, portable lawn chairs were tied together to prevent rally attendees from separating them to isolated sections of the venue grounds in observance of physical distancing.

The appearance of a mass crowd listening to the president was more important to rally organizers than the health of the attendees, noted the critic. The U.S. leads the world in number of infections and deaths that have reach over 3.3 million with 137,000 deaths. Canada has 108,000 cases with 8,776 deaths. The current border closure agreement between the two countries is set to expire July 21.


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Posted by on Jul 13 2020. Filed under Africa & World Politics, American Politics, Canadian Politics, Headlines, NNP News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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