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Our view: Canada border opening good but delay was unacceptable

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Virus Outbreak US Borders

Truck traffic from Canada waits to cross the border into the United States in Derby Line Vt. in 2020.

The delay in opening U.S. borders to fully vaccinated travelers from Canada and Mexico was clearly a failure of leadership, but the White House doesn't appear prepared to explain why it happened.

The U.S. border has been closed to nonessential travel since March 2020 as a means of controlling the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden administration this week said that cross-border travel will again be allowed in November for business and pleasure travelers who can show they've been fully vaccinated. In January, all travelers — even essential workers such as truck drivers — will have to have proof of vaccination.

A White House official acknowledged an understanding of the importance of commerce in border communities and also the maintaining of personal ties in divided communities but stopped short of offering any rationale for why it took so long to allow fully vaccinated people to visit. We understand the pandemic is a complex thing that needs to be fought on many fronts, but we've also repeatedly pointed out that governments large and small need to be prepared to work on many things at at the same time.

This aspect of COVID-19 control should have been sorted out months ago, especially considering that Canada put together a sensible approach rooted in vaccines and negative tests that allowed U.S. citizens to begin traveling to Canada again in August.

State and federal representatives hailed the reopening plan as a positive step forward. And it is. But it took an unnecessarily long time to get to this point, and New Yorkers and others who have been more than a little inconvenienced deserve assurances that a similar thing won't happen again.

The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Michelle Bowers, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.


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