Democratic lawmakers in Congress are urging the Biden administration to further ease cross-border travel restrictions after Canada lifted travel regulations earlier this week. 

Border communities near Canada have struggled economically during the pandemic as travel was limited. Canada on Oct. 1 lifted COVID-19 related rules for testing and vaccinations. 

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins in a joint letter to the Biden administration called for the U.S. to make similar changes. 

“Today, both Canada and the United States have seen significant declines in serious COVID-19 cases and fatalities, in part due to the work the Biden administration has done in tandem with our Canadian neighbors and local leaders to ensure border communities have had access to the COVID-19 vaccine, medication, and other health care support needed to fight this pandemic,” they wrote. “In light of these positive developments, we believe now is the most opportune moment to ease restrictions that would once again unleash the northern border economy, reunite friends, families, and colleagues across the border, and continue the U.S.-Canada partnership that has been crucial for both of our nations’ successes.”

It's estimated border closure has led to an estimated $1.5 billion loss to the U.S. economy and an annually $665 million to $855 million hit to Erie County. 

Border restrictions have also led to a strain on supply chains for businesses, hospitals and medical equipment. The Biden administration had previously indicated it would re-open the land border with Canada to fully vaccinated travelers from the country.