Senator Says Border Restrictions Recently Enacted by Canada are Hurting Minnesota Families, Tourists and Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. [4/7/21]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) has repeatedly pressed Canadian officials on issues affecting the Minnesota’s Northwest Angle—which cannot be accessed by land without traveling briefly through Canada—and today, Sen. Smith is urging the U.S. State Department to address new Canadian restrictions that are hurting Minnesotans who own homes and businesses in the Northwest Angle.

Currently, due to border restrictions recently enacted by Canada, Angle residents, tourists and business owners are required to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test in order to travel through Canada to the Angle. But with limited PCR testing available in rural areas, Sen. Smith says that these restrictions, which apply regardless of an individual’s vaccination status, must be addressed.

“Minnesota’s Northwest Angle cannot be accessed by land without traveling briefly through Canada. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Government has severely restricted cross-border travel, and the uniform policy that treats all cross-border travel equally creates major problems for exclaves like the Northwest Angle,” wrote Sen. Smith in her letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken. “The effect of these policies is to prohibit Americans from traveling to their homes, and they have starved tourism reliant business owners of their customer base. By ignoring the unique circumstance of this community, Canadian officials have placed undue hardship on American citizens.”

You can access a copy of the letter here or below:

April 7, 2021

Antony Blinken
Secretary
United States Department of State
2201 C St NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Blinken:

I am writing today to ask for your help on behalf of residents, visitors, business and property owners on the Northwest Angle in Minnesota. These Americans are beset by the constantly changing, inconsistently applied border policies of the Canadian Government.

Minnesota’s Northwest Angle cannot be accessed by land without traveling briefly through Canada. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Government has severely restricted cross-border travel, and the uniform policy that treats all cross-border travel equally creates major problems for exclaves like the Northwest Angle. The effect of these policies is to prohibit Americans from traveling to their homes, and they have starved tourism reliant business owners of their customer base. By ignoring the unique circumstance of this community, Canadian officials have placed undue hardship on American citizens.

The most recent problem to arise follows new restrictions recently enacted by the Canadian Government, which require Angle residents to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test in order to transit through Manitoba to the Angle. A trip to the nearest community for groceries or a medical appointment is no longer routine. Access to timely PCR testing is limited in rural areas, and it is infeasible in this situation to rely on mail or parcel services, which would mean a multi-day delay in returning home. These restrictions apply regardless of an individual’s vaccination status.

I have pressed Canadian officials repeatedly on issues affecting the Northwest Angle over the last year, and I urge you to work with your Canadian counterparts to devise a solution that addresses the needs of border exclave communities, and the Northwest Angle specifically.

Sincerely,

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Issues