Cantwell, Bipartisan Lawmakers Urge President Trump to Address Impact of U.S-Canada Border Closure and Quarantines on Medical & Other Essential Supply Chains

With border communities affected, senators urge the president to ensure necessary exemptions, consider healthcare workers, commercial drivers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined a bipartisan group of senators representing states along the United States-Canada border last week in a letter to President Trump calling on him to consider necessary exemptions to protect public health and safety for businesses and individuals affected by travel restrictions from closing the U.S.-Canadian border, as well as enforcement mandated by quarantines. The letter highlighted concerns regarding effects that the closure of the northern border on March 21 will have on the supply chains of companies that produce or provide essential goods and services.

“Many businesses in our states, including hospitals and medical equipment providers, depend upon travel across the northern border for essential supplies and personnel. In attempting to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, we must ensure that any new travel restrictions do not handicap these industries and their ability to respond to outbreaks quickly and effectively. Federal agencies and the Coronavirus Task Force will need to coordinate closely to ensure the necessary exemptions are made to travel restrictions. We ask that as you make decisions to restrict travel to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, you immediately communicate with the businesses and individuals regarding those restrictions,” the senators wrote.  

In their letter, the senators urged the president to evaluate the impact of travel restrictions on families and communities along the northern border, some of which share essential services critical to public safety.

“Of particular concern are individuals with family members in Canada and communities with deep economic ties across the border. These businesses and communities need to know how additional closures and quarantines with affect them, and we must ensure that all the necessary exemptions are made in the interest of public health and safety,” the senators wrote.

In Washington state in response to the US-Canada border closure, Whatcom Unified Command developed a Border Task Force to ensure that the needs of residents are met, as well as to address concerns involving healthcare workers who cross the border to get to work, and commercial drivers. Included in the task force is a representative from Senator Cantwell’s office.

In concluding their letter, the senators reiterated that “some restrictions on movement will be required to stem the spread of the pandemic but targeted exemptions will also be necessary.” Therefore, “some level of certainty regarding what businesses and individuals will be exempt from future actions is vital to ensuring the continuity of services to protect public health and safety.”

In addition to Cantwell, the letter is signed by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Steve Daines (R-MT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tina Smith (D-MN), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Gary Peters (D-MI), Angus King (I-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

The full letter can be found HERE.