Inslee writes letter to federal officials as border reopening appears likely

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Governor Jay Inslee sent a letter to federal officials last week asking for the U.S./Canada border to immediately reopen.

In a letter the governor’s office released June 8, Inslee urged U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken and secretary of homeland security Alejandro Mayorkas for a full or, at least, partial border reopening. Inslee listed Point Roberts residents, separated families, affected business owners and cross-border homeowners, in that order, as people who should be prioritized with reopening the border.

“If a full border opening is not considered feasible, I would like to recommend that we prioritize the development of specific policies to partially open crossings,” Inslee wrote. “The hardships being experienced along the U.S./Canadian border are significant, and measurable forward progress is needed.”

Inslee also asked that the NEXUS system be used to share vaccine records if users agreed. He also suggested using the ArriveCAN app, which the Canadian government currently operates for vaccine records and negative Covid-19 test results.

“The state of Washington and our friends in British Columbia stand ready to assist the federal governments in the development of pilot programs to safely open the border,” Inslee wrote. “We share a sense of urgency in meeting the needs of our impacted communities, with more than 60 percent of B.C. residents having received a first dose of vaccination, and a similar percentage of Washingtonians vaccinated, we believe that we can significantly mitigate the health risks associated with reopening our border by continuing to follow a data-driven, science-based approach and the guidance of our public health experts.”

As of June 7, 45 percent of Washingtonians were fully vaccinated; 56 percent of those 16 and over have been fully vaccinated. For those 16 and over, 64 percent have had at least one dose. The city of Seattle is the first major U.S. city to achieve a 70 percent vaccination rate.

Following the All Point Bulletin reporting the U.S./Canada border could reopen June 22, numerous media outlets have suggested at least the U.S. border will re-open without restrictions when the current border closure order expires on June 21.

A June 7 Bloomberg News article titled “Canada Set to Ease Quarantine Rules for Vaccinated Travelers,” reports “people familiar with discussions” say the Canadian government is preparing to loosen border restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers.

According to the article, the plan is tentatively expected to be announced in the coming days. It would change the 14-day isolation period but people would still need to take a Covid-19 test and may need to isolate for three days.

The U.S. and Canadian national chambers of commerce and other business groups have written Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling upon him to open up the border to fully vaccinated travelers without requiring a Covid-19 test or going into quarantine. Those changes should take effect on June 22, the letter asserts. The letter was sent on June 8.

In a June 7 article titled, “Canada eyeing June 22 to begin loosening restrictions at U.S. border,” Politico reported after a meeting with public safety minister Bill Blair, Canadian border city mayors believe Canada could begin easing border restrictions June 22. Niagara Falls, Ontario mayor Jim Diodati said the June 22 date wasn’t confirmed and he hoped to get more information later in the week.

The U.S./Canada border closure, extended monthly, will expire Monday, June 21, falling right before Canada Day on July 1 and the Fourth of July. The All Point Bulletin first reported on May 25 the U.S. was looking to unilaterally open the U.S./Canada border June 22. The information came from two highly placed U.S. Customs and Border Patrol sources who told Blaine immigration attorney Len Saunders on May 25.

During a May 18 press conference, Trudeau said 75 percent of Canadians needed to be vaccinated to loosen Covid-19 restrictions. The government of Canada’s most recent vaccine information shows 51 percent of Canadians are partially vaccinated and 5.7 percent are fully vaccinated.

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