PLATTSBURGH – The Canadian government is considering letting the ArriveCAN app and other pandemic-related border crossing restrictions expire at the end of the month, much to the delight of local officials here in the North Country.
“We have continued to encourage our Canadian friends to drop the app as a border crossing mandate, together with a growing number of organizations and officials in both countries, and we are pleased that such a move is currently being actively considered”, Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, said.
“While the number of cars in Champlain reached 70% of 2019 levels last summer, it only reached 50% in most other regions and there is no doubt that the mandatory use of the enforcement is a big factor while offering little benefit in exchange for lost trips. More and more Canadians and Canadian MPs are calling for his demise and it seems that grassroots efforts are being heard.
Severe border restrictions were put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, limiting travel to essential services only.
Many restrictions were lifted late last year as the two countries worked to resume more normal border activities.
The ArriveCAN app was introduced last year and travelers are required to use it to let border officials know when and where they would be entering Canada. The app has had mixed results, with some saying it worked well but leaving many others frustrated.
Clinton County Legislative Speaker Mark Henry (R-Area 3, Chazy) said the app idea was good, but it didn’t get the best reviews.
“We have heard reports that it has been difficult for some to use and it has had a chilling effect on border crossings,” said Henry.
“It would only be positive if they removed this and other restrictions because it affects everyone in our area.”
Henry said border crossings can still be safe even without the app, as the process still requires pit checks.
“Even if you do the app, you still have to go talk to the officer and they can do what they need to do without the app like they’ve been doing for years and years,” he said.
United States-Canada relations
Douglas said the app’s expiration would go a long way to restoring cross-border relationships.
“A key goal of both countries must be to restore round-trip travel to previous levels, not just for economic reasons, but because it’s the foundation of the entire special relationship between the United States and Canada,” said Douglas.
“Abandoning the remaining border crossing mandates and restrictions would be in time for us to connect again for the upcoming holidays and look forward to a year 2023 that brings us together completely.”
Douglas thanked U.S. and Canadian partners who have strongly advocated for ArriveCAN’s abandonment, including Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Congresswoman Brian Higgins and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as the Canadian American Business Council.