Report: US, Canada to extend travel ban through June 21

Canada's chief public health officer said the US - where coronavirus cases are increasing - presents a risk to Canada.

    Drivers wait to cross through Canadian customs at the Canada-US border near the Peace Arch Provincial Park in Surrey, British Columbia [File: Jesse Winter/Reuters]
    Drivers wait to cross through Canadian customs at the Canada-US border near the Peace Arch Provincial Park in Surrey, British Columbia [File: Jesse Winter/Reuters]

    Canada and the United States are likely to extend a ban on non-essential travel until June 21 because of the coronavirus pandemic, two Canadian government sources and a US official in Washington, DC told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

    Canada and the US had agreed on April 18 to extend border restrictions until May 21 as cases of the disease continue to rise in both nations. Canada is now pressing for the measures to stay in place for another month.

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    "It's too early to lift the restrictions, so we're working toward an extension," said one Canadian source, describing the talks with officials in Washington, DC as positive. A second source said the discussions had been collaborative.

    On Tuesday, the chief Canadian public health officer said the US - where cases are increasing steadily - presented a risk to Canada.

    News of the Canadian request for a 30-day extension was first reported by the Globe and Mail newspaper.

    The agreement allows the flow of goods across a border that stretches 8,891km (5,525 miles) and is a crossing point for one of the world's largest bilateral trading relationships.

    The US takes 75 percent of all Canadian goods exports.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday Canada was "looking at stronger measures" to ensure the coronavirus was not being spread by border crossers, but gave no details.

    The Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec are adjacent to the state of New York, one of the US epicentres of the disease. Canadian officials have been repeatedly pressed about the potential risk posed by arriving truck drivers.

    Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, on Tuesday said the coronavirus "could take off rapidly" unless extreme caution was exercised about relaxing the ban.

    "We need to be able to see what happens when we ease the domestic public health measures before we can essentially look at the international border easing up," she told a briefing.

    "The United States being one country that still has cases and is still trying to manage outbreaks ... presents a risk to Canada from that perspective."

    Representatives for the State Department could not be immediately reached for comment on the report.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency