PLATTSBURGH – The Canadian government is considering phasing out the ArriveCAN app and other pandemic-related border crossing restrictions 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 adopt the app as a cross-border mandate, along with a growing number of organizations and officials in both countries, and are pleased that such a move is now under active consideration,” said Garry Douglas, North President of the State Chamber of Commerce , said.
“While the number of cars in Champlain last summer reached 70% of 2019 levels, in most other areas it only reached 50% and there is no question that mandatory use of the app is a big factor while driving in the Exchange for lost trips brings little benefit. A growing number of Canadians and Canadian lawmakers are calling for his demise and it appears that grassroots efforts are being heard.”
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, strict border restrictions were put in place, restricting travel to only essential services.
Many of the restrictions were lifted late last year as both countries scramble to resume more normal border activities.
The ArriveCAN app was implemented last year and travelers must use it to notify border officials when and where they would be entering Canada. The app was met with mixed results, with some saying it worked well but leaving many others frustrated.
Clinton County Legislature Chairman Mark Henry (R-Area 3, Chazy) said the idea of the app was fine, but it didn’t get the best reviews.
“We’ve heard reports that it was difficult for some to use and that it had a deterrent effect on border crossings,” Henry said.
“It would only be positive if they lifted these and other restrictions because this affects everyone in our region.”
Henry said border crossings can still be safe without the app as the process still requires verification at the booth.
“Even if you use the app, you still have to 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.
Douglas said the app’s phasing out will go a long way toward restoring cross-border ties.
“A primary goal for both countries must be to bring round-trip traffic back to previous levels, not just for economic reasons, but because this is the bedrock of the entire special relationship between the US and Canada,” Douglas said.
“The abandonment of remaining border crossing mandates and restrictions would be timely for us to reconnect for the upcoming holidays and look forward to a 2023 that will bring us fully back together.”
Douglas thanked the U.S. and Canadian partners who have strongly advocated the task of ArriveCAN, including Congressmen Elise Stefanik and Congressman Brian Higgins, and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and the Canadian American Business Council.