Dunleavy jabs at Biden to open border so Americans can drive to Alaska

a two-lane road and big snow-covered mountains
A scene from the Alaska Highway at Canada’s Kluane National Park, Yukon. (Ron Clausen/Creative Commons)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has taken to Twitter to needle the federal government for not trying harder to open the Canadian border so Americans can drive to Alaska.

“The Alaska highway is a vital part of our state’s economy and the Biden Administration MUST do more to open this route through Canada,” the Alaska governor tweeted Tuesday, as part of a string of messages on the subject. “Anything less is a land blockade with Washington silent.”

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau announced last week that the border would remain closed to non-essential travel until July 21. He said yesterday that, in a few weeks,  he expects to announce that he’s easing border restrictions, but that depends on Canadian vaccination rates.

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Canada has been slower than the U.S. to acquire COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 50% of Americans are fully vaccinated, but only 20% of Canadians are. Despite pressure from border towns and Canadian businesses that rely on American visitors, Trudeau said he has to put the health of his citizens first.

Canada has been allowing Alaskans to cross the border to get home, which is considered essential travel. Likewise, they can drive south if they can prove that they are going for work or school.

One Alaskan Twitter user noted that while Dunleavy is complaining about the loss of the overland route, he is also trying to give away the Malaspina. That state-owned ferry used to carry cars and people from Washington state to Southeast Alaska. The Malaspina needs millions of dollars in repairs. The state pays nearly half a million a year to keep the ferry at dock.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Liz here.

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