(The Center Square) – New Hampshire lawmakers and business leaders are ratcheting up pressure on the federal government to speed the process of reopening the Canadian border.
During a remote meeting with U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials, a group of Granite State leaders called on the federal agency to lift the border restrictions.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who participated in the meeting, said she "shares the frustration" of New Hampshire communities and businesses over the decision to extend the U.S.-Canada border closure to vaccinated Canadians until the end of September.
"Our businesses and tourism sector are feeling the economic impact, which they already can’t afford as they fight to get their feet back on the ground following the financial fallout from the pandemic," Shaheen said in a statement. "I understand the serious challenges posed by the rapid spread of the Delta variant and the urgent need to keep people safe, but we also know this is vastly due to an epidemic spurred by the unvaccinated."
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the closure of the land borders with Canada and Mexico to nonessential travelers until Sept. 21, citing a rise in COVID-19 infections.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government began allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens to cross the border into Canada beginning this month.
Like many northern border states, New Hampshire depends on a steady flow of tourism from Canada, especially during the normally busy summer months.
The Biden administration's decision to extend the U.S. restrictions has drawn rebukes from politicians from U.S. border states, including New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu who called the decision "absurd."
U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., who also participated in the meeting with Homeland Security officials, said while the rise in COVID-19 cases tied to the delta variant is a concern, the federal government can "take common sense steps forward to support our Granite State economy while keeping our communities safe."
“Opening our northern border to fully-vaccinated Canadians will help to spur job creation and boost our local economy in the Granite State," Kuster said.
The meeting included representatives from the state's business and tourism industries who joined members of the congressional delegation in urging federal officials to lift border restrictions.
Shaheen said she and other members of the group will continue to push the Biden administration "to make every effort to ramp up the timeline so we can resume travel to and from Canada among vaccinated individuals as swiftly as possible."