“The situation in the United States is getting worse”: Ont. The mayor of the border town supports the extension of the border closure

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TORONTO – For many Canadian border communities, the closure of the Canada-U.S. Border due to COVID-19 has had serious economic consequences. But a mayor in an Ontario border town says he is “absolutely” in favor of continued restrictions on cross-border travel, in large part because of how the United States has handled the pandemic.

“The situation in the United States is getting worse,” Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop told CTV News Channel on Wednesday. “There doesn’t seem to be any respect for the health and safety of others.”

The United States is the country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, with more than 6.5 million cases and more than 195,000 deaths as of Wednesday.

Redekop added that Ontario had recently seen “a slight increase” in cases.

“So at this point in the game, it doesn’t make sense to lift border restrictions,” he said.

His comments come after senior government sources told CTV News that border restrictions should be extended until November.

In August, the restrictions were extended until September 21, their fifth renewal since the border was first closed in late March. The restrictions mean tourists and non-essential cross-border tours are banned, even though trade is unaffected.

Redekop is far from the only mayor presiding over a border town to give his opinion. A group of mayors from border towns met with Canada’s Public Safety Minister Bill Blair last week urging the federal government to keep the Canada-U.S. Border closed to non-essential travel until it is more secure.

“He was very receptive to us and committed to continuing the dialogue and involving us in decisions made in the future,” Redekop said. “We told him in particular that it would be helpful if an exit strategy was established, so that at some point in the future, when the border restrictions are relaxed, that at least there is a plan. to go forward.

It’s not that Fort Erie wasn’t affected by the shutdown, Redekop said.

“It affected our community as it did with all the communities along the border,” he said. “In terms of tourism, in terms of restaurants, in terms of retailers, it has had an impact on us. Fort Erie is just across the border from Buffalo and western New York, there is often a healthy movement of people across this border. Many Americans own properties in our community. Some Canadians own properties in the United States, so this has been disrupted.

He added that one of the major problems is when family members cannot get to the other side of the border, which means there may be a situation “where there is someone who is ill or possibly dying on one side of the border and where the family cannot visit other. ”

This is one of the reasons Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens wants to look at exemptions and create a formal process for families to cross the border on compassionate grounds.

While the majority of mayors in border towns agree to extend the border closure, some, like Dilkens, would prefer a month-to-month registration to assess the situation, while others, like Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley , would be in favor of a complete closure until the next one. year.

Restaurant owner Scott Darvie, including Sarnia, Ont. The harbor pub normally enjoys the patronage of many American tourists, told CTV News London that although it lost a lot of business, it was still okay with closing the border, as another full stop of the COVID-19 would make survival even more difficult.

“If we were to close again and start taking out again, my staff would be unemployed and coming back to me is not a solution,” he said.

Redekop stressed that when we talk about the economics of COVID-19 precautions, it’s important to keep the severity of the pandemic in perspective.

“We are talking about something that killed almost 200,000 Americans, almost 10,000 Canadians,” he said. “It had significant effects on the health of those infected.

This border closure is simply a “period of six or seven months”, he said, although he predicted it could “extend for a year or more”.

“But think of the people who went through the Depression and think of the people and families whose lives were affected during WWI, WWII – these things lasted for years and had a significant impact,” a- he declared. “So I think we have to understand the fact that it’s all about health and safety. The economy is of course important, but health and safety above all. ”

With files from Rich Garton of CTV Windsor and Bryan Bicknell of CTV News London

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