US-Canada border to remain closed through June 21

US officials concede that current restrictions at both Mexican and Canadian borders are ‘likely’ to be extended.

US Canada border
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 have agreed to extend a ban on non-essential travel between the two nations by another 30 days as part of the fight against the coronavirus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.

Trudeau said the border is a source of vulnerability, so the agreement will be extended by another 30 days. The restrictions were announced on March 18 and were extended in April.

Trudeau said Canada’s provincial leaders clearly wanted to continue the measures.

“This will keep people in both of our countries safe,” he said.

US officials have not officially confirmed Trudeau’s announcement, but acting US Department of Homeland Security chief Chad Wolf said on Tuesday the administration of President Donald Trump is “likely” to extend non-essential travel restrictions at both the Canadian and Mexican borders.

“We really have to see what is the health care situation like in Mexico and Canada, how are their cases, have they hit their curve?” Wolf said at a US Chamber of Commerce event. “What we don’t want to do is try to open up parts of our economy and have a lot of folks coming across the border that we haven’t seen in the past 50 or 60 days.”

Trump has said that the US and Canada are doing well in handling the pandemic, but many Canadians fear a reopening. The US has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world, though its per capita numbers are well below many other nations.

Essential cross-border workers like healthcare professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still permitted to cross. Truck drivers are critical as they move food and medical goods in both directions. Much of Canada’s food supply comes from or via the US.

Americans who are returning to the US and Canadians who are returning to Canada are also exempted from the border closure.

Canada sends 75 percent of its exports to the US and about 18 percent of American exports go to Canada. The US-Canada border is the world’s longest between two nations.

On Tuesday, Canada’s Public Health Agency reported that the country had seen a total of 78,499 confirmed coronavirus cases, up more than 1,000 from the previous day. More than 5,800 people have died from COVID-19 in the country since the start of the pandemic.

Source: News Agencies