The United States is planning to reopen its land border to fully vaccinated Canadians next month after a long and unprecedented period of travel restrictions, according to a U.S. congressman.

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The long-awaited news came in a statement from Rep. Brian Higgins.

The New York Democrat has been one of the loudest critics in Washington of the continued border restrictions that have lasted for more than a year and a half.

He made the claim in a statement, adding that proof of vaccination will be required, but offered no further details.

He said further details would soon be announced by U.S. federal officials. Higgins’s office said it was seeking additional clarity from the administration on key details including what types of vaccines will suffice.

“The sigh of relief coming from northern border communities following this announcement is so loud it can practically be heard on either end of the Peace Bridge,” Higgins said in the statement, referring to the span that connects Buffalo, N.Y., to Fort Erie, Ont., and one of the busiest bridges between the two countries.

Closed to non-essential travel

Canadians have not been allowed to cross the land border to the U.S. since the pandemic was declared in March 2020, other than for essential purposes.

The Frontier Duty Free Association, the industry group representing Canada’s land-border duty-free businesses, said recently sales are down 80 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels due to a lack of border traffic.

It said sales were down 95 per cent when the border was closed in both directions.

The U.S. reopening would come after Canada’s recent reopening of its land border to U.S. travellers. The United States, however, has never completely ended recreational travel from Canada as it has allowed air travel from Canada since the beginning of the pandemic.

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