Published on : Friday, June 19, 2020
Governments of Canada and the U.S. have decided to extend the border closure between the two countries for at least another month and continue to keep a ban on all non-essential travel. The decision comes as cases of COVID-19 infections continue to rise across both the countries. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced that the border closure agreement between both the countries that was set to expire this Sunday has been re-established once again until July 21.
Although the countries have already opened up their economies, border restrictions will remain in place for another one month. The first agreement of Canada-U.S. border closure arrived back in March that only kept the border open to commercial traffic and essential workers. The latest agreement would continue to allow the flow of trade and commerce between the two countries but any form of recreational travel will remain banned. Alongside foreign essential workers, key healthcare professionals such as nurses who live and work on opposite sides of the border will be exempted from the travel ban. All other tourism and cross-border visits would stay prohibited.
The ban on non-essential travel covers the land border between the two countries, as well as air, sea and rail travel into Canada but non-essential travel to the U.S. by air and sea has been allowed. According to the latest agreement, the federal government has also permitted some immediate family members separated by the temporary COVID-19 travel restrictions to enter the country by crossing the border. All foreign who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents and do not have any medical record, signs or symptoms of coronavirus infections will also come under the rule. However, it would be mandatory for every individual entering the country to self-quarantine for 14 days. Foreign nationals will also have to prove that their travel is not discretionary and that they can comply with the quarantine measures.
Prime Minister Trudeau said in his statement that the latest move was an important decision that will keep people in both countries safe. He continued to emphasize that reopening the Canadian border to international travel would be risky at present as countries across the world are still facing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and are working towards containing the virus outbreak while more stringent contact tracing methods are yet to be established.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland added that the decision to extend the Canada-U.S. border closure was based on a mutual recognition that the measures that are currently in place are working very well and any hindrance might cause both the countries to step backwards. She also mentioned that though the urge to travel after months of staying home is understandable, foreign travellers should consider keeping distance till the situation gets better for the safety of their own health and the health of Canadians.
Meanwhile, Canadian health officials have decided to constantly monitor the trajectory of the epidemic in U.S to decide if July 21 is an appropriate time to lift restrictions or the situation requires a continuation of the restriction. Irrespective of constant pressure from business interests and border communities PM Trudeau did not provide any insight on how restrictions will be lifted and the border would be open after the situation allows.