Thursday September 17, 2020
Chamber Displeased Border Extension Still Brings No Plan for the Future
Canadian government officials are confirming that existing restrictions on cross border travel are being extended from September 21 to October 21. The bi-national restrictions leave commercial shipping activities unaffected but limit personal travel across the border to defined essential categories including cross border commuters such as hundreds of Canadian nurses and health care professionals who work in New York, truck drivers, emergency personnel and a few other limited purposes.

"As with the last few extensions, we wholly expected this latest action, so it is not a surprise," states Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. "But it's time to once again cue the crickets in both federal governments as they continue to ignore reasonable calls for a reopening plan with metrics and a decision making process, as well as a call to at least study and consider a number of modest interim measures that have been suggested, such as expanded family connections, the visitation of property within 50 or 100 miles of the border and some added forms of business related travel such as site visits." 

Adds Douglas, "Continuing to treat a policy action that is so extremely impactful on one of the most important bi-national economic and social connections on Earth with such a lack of dialogue and planning is, as we have said before, a case of enormous public policy malpractice. We will remain actively engaged with the Northern Border Caucus in Congress, co-chaired by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Congressman Brian Higgins, as well as our other partners in both countries, renewing the call for a response to our requests before October 21 rolls around."

The Chamber again welcomes the continuation of uninterrupted commercial activity at the border, preserving bi-national supply chains which are especially important to the North Country's large and growing manufacturing community as well as to the overall U.S.-Canada economic partnership.

The North Country Chamber reports that car traffic at the Champlain border crossing, which is the main New York-Quebec border gateway, was down 96% in August compared with a year earlier (5,828 vs. 143,153) while truck traffic was up 3% (from 24,545 to 25,106). 
Chamber Welcomes Withdrawal of U.S. Tariff on Canadian Aluminum
The North Country Chamber of Commerce is welcoming yesterday's announcement by the U.S. government that it is withdrawing the 10% tariff it recently imposed on aluminum imports from Canada. 
"We and other partners across the country have been seeking the quick reversal of this self-harming tariff and we are pleased to see it has been withdrawn before doing greater economic damage, and before Canada understandably deployed countermeasures," states Garry Douglas, Chamber President. "The U.S. and Canada do not trade as other countries do. We make things together and together we compete more effectively with China and the rest of the world. This tariff threatened to undercut this unique economic partnership and was especially unfortunate coming on the heels of the implementation of USMCA on July 1st which was such a recognition of the power of our joint economy, especially in manufacturing."
Adds Douglas, "This tariff was bad for U.S. competitiveness and jobs, bad for Alcoa and its employees in the North Country based upon the high degree of integration of Alcoa operations here and in Quebec, and an added cost to our region's all important cross border supply chains, without which we would not have the dynamic and growing manufacturing community we enjoy here. We were pleased to work closely with many partners in conveying to Washington why this tariff should be quickly reversed, including Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and our Quebec friends, and we thank all for helping to achieve this faster than most thought was possible given the upcoming election. Onward and upward!"
Special Enrollment for Uninsured Extended Through the End of 2020
Governor Cuomo announced that the Special Enrollment Period for uninsured New Yorkers will be extended through December 31, 2020. New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health, New York State's health insurance marketplace, or directly through insurers.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over and it's more important than ever for New Yorkers to have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance," Governor Cuomo said. "New York has resources available to help those who need coverage during this difficult time, and anyone who doesn't currently have health insurance, regardless of the reason, should visit NY State of Health and enroll today."

Individuals who enroll in Qualified Health Plans through NY State of Health or directly through insurers by October 15, 2020 will have a choice of coverage start date of either October 1, 2020 or November 1, 2020. Those enrolling between October 16 and December 15, 2020 will have a choice of coverage start date of November 1 or December 1, 2020. Those enrolling between December 16 and December 31, 2020 would get a January 1, 2021 coverage start date. Importantly, consumers will have the option to continue their enrollment in the same plan in 2021 without a break in coverage. Individuals who are eligible for other NY State of Health programs - Medicaid, Essential Plan and Child Health Plus - can enroll year-round. Finally, as directed by Governor Cuomo, all New York insurers have waived cost sharing for COVID-19 testing.
As always, consumers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health online at, by phone at 1-855-355-5777, and by connecting with a free enrollment assistor.
Additional information on NY State of Health insurance options during the Coronavirus emergency can be found here.
Department of Financial Services information and resources during the Coronavirus emergency can be found here.
Quebec puts four more regions under alert, warns second COVID-19 wave looms
Warning there is “real risk” of a second wave of COVID-19, Premier François Legault announced four more Quebec regions have been added to the yellow early warning status by the government.

With the number of cases up by almost 300 province wide, the government announced Montreal, Montérégie, Bas St-Laurent and Chaudière Appalaches were losing their green vigilance status and now are to be considered yellow “early warning.”

The change means more inspections and stricter controls on activities, including in schools. This is according to an article in the Montreal Gazette - read more below.
NYS Infection Rate Drops Below One Percent - Again!
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced yesterday that the infection rate in New York State dropped below one percent again to 0.87. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at
"Our numbers continue to remain low, thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers, who rose to the occasion and ultimately flattened the curve," Governor Cuomo said. "We have been calibrating our reopening based on real-time data, and we will continue to make decisions based on science and facts, because this thing is not over. Having our infection rate come back down to 0.87 is great news for us - we don't want to see our infection rate go over one percent for any period of time. There is no margin for error: It's going to take all of us to keep wearing our masks, washing our hands and remaining socially distant."
  • Forward NY: Official State Website for opening procedures and guidelines.

  • Looking for Supplies: If your business is looking for hard to find protective products, we have created a list of businesses offering hand sanitizer, gloves, wipes, masks and other items.

  • SCORE: Visit Scores Coronavirus page for webinars and useful articles for small businesses.
To help the North Country reopen safely and meet the state and local mandates, The North Country Chamber of Commerce has created a comprehensive list of resources to navigate state and local requirements. Check out the home page for details. There is also a series of webinars available for businesses to help educate and provide answers to common questions.
Have Questions? We're here to help!

North Country Chamber of Commerce