Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter last week to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas urging an immediate full or partial reopening of the U.S.-Canadian border to provide relief for individuals and communities impacted by the prolonged closure.
The letter reads, in part:
"Washington state has taken a science-based approach to the pandemic and has enacted public health measures that prioritize safety and protect the lives of Washingtonians. Because of rising vaccination rates, Washington State has a plan to reopen our economy statewide by June 30. Therefore, I respectfully request that the United States and Canadian governments, and specifically your departments, work to find innovative ways to reopen the border consistent with public health guidance.
"If a full border opening is not considered feasible, I would like to recommend that we prioritize the development of specific policies to partially open crossings. The hardships being experienced along the U.S.-Canadian border are significant, and measurable forward progress is needed"
In addition to a reopening of the border, the governor also asked for additional actions to respond to the needs of impacted groups on either side of the border and promote border efficiency. Inslee's request includes:
- A binational approach that uses the NEXUS program as a way for travelers to voluntarily share vaccine records electronically with both the US and Canada.
- Using the ArriveCAN platform that is required for entry into Canada to share vaccine records and/or negative test results.
The letter concludes: "The state of Washington and our friends in British Columbia stand ready to assist the federal governments in the development of pilot programs to safely open the border. We share a sense of urgency in meeting the needs of our impacted communities, with more than 60 percent of BC residents having received a first dose of vaccination, and a similar percentage of Washingtonians vaccinated, we believe that we can significantly mitigate the health risks associated with reopening our border by continuing to follow a data-driven, science-based approach and the guidance of our public health experts."
Read the full letter here.