Senators’ Legislation Would Provide Relief to Families, Tourists and Businesses Hurt by Coronavirus Border Restrictions Enacted by Canada
WASHINGTON, D.C. [4/29/21]—Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), along with Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), introduced legislation that would provide relief to Minnesotans in the Northwest Angle and Washingtonians in Point Roberts that have been hurt by COVID-19 travel restrictions between the United States and Canada. Their Remote Recreational Small Business Interruption Program Act would provide forgivable loans to small businesses in exclaves of the contiguous United States near the Canadian border.
In order to safely reach the Northwest Angle, Americans must travel through Canadian territory by automobile at a border crossing. The alternative route is a 40-mile boat trip across Lake of the Woods. Sens. Smith and Senator Klobuchar have urged cooperation between the U.S. and Canadian governments to find solutions to allow limited and safe travel along the northern border for those who live and work in border communities.
US-Canada border restrictions have put Angle businesses in a particularly difficult position because most U.S. citizens can’t reach the Angle by land. This has effectively barred tourists from the exclave. Even as many other businesses across Minnesota have been able to at least partially reopen, Angle businesses remain largely closed because of the border situation.
“We need to support all Minnesotans and Americans during this health and economic crisis, and that includes Northwest Angle businesses and families,” said Sen. Smith. “I’ve pressed both the Canadian government and the U.S. State Department about the burdensome travel restrictions in place, and this legislation is another way to stand up for the people who live and work in the Northwest Angle and help them weather this crisis.”
“Due to pandemic travel restrictions, the Northwest Angle has been effectively cut off from the rest of Minnesota, inflicting hardship on those who have been separated from their homes, businesses, and loved ones. Northwest Angle small businesses need assistance to stay afloat, and this legislation will help them weather this pandemic and get through to the other side,” said Sen. Klobuchar.
“Small business owners continue to face serious challenges as a result of the U.S./Canada border closure, including in my home state of Washington,” said Sen. Murray. “This has a direct impact on tourism and the economies of these communities. This legislation will help provide the economic support needed to help these small businesses keep their lights on and their employees on payroll.”
Under the bill, forgivable loans would be available for up to 75% of last year’s revenue, if a business’s revenue dropped by at least half during the second quarter of 2020. Loan forgiveness would be reduced by amount received under the PPP or other federal loan forgiveness programs.
You can access bill text here.