Canada and U.S. agree to close border to limit coronavirus

Shelby Thevenot, Kareem El-Assal
Published: March 18, 2020

Canada and the U.S. have reached a mutual deal to close their borders to non-essential travel. The deal is another major measure being taken by the countries to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

U.S. President Donald Trump was the first to confirm this measure at around 9:40 AM EDT on Twitter.

The move represents the fluid nature of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Justin Trudeau announced that tourists and shoppers will not be permitted to move between the borders. He stepped out to address the public today, March 18, at about 10:40 a.m. EDT.

Canadians will be allowed to return home, and essential trade will continue. Truckers will be allowed to cross the border, in an effort to keep the flow of food, fuel, and medicines available to both countries.

Though Canadian residents who present symptoms will not be able to board a plane, crossing the border by land may be an option.

The prime minister also said travel restrictions within Canada are not off the table if the situation calls for such measures, following a reporter's question.

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Just two days ago, on Monday, March 16, at around 1:40 PM EDT, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a travel ban on almost all foreigners, however, he stated that U.S. citizens were exempt from the travel ban “for now.”

Closing its border with the U.S. underscores just how seriously Canada is pursuing efforts to contain COVID-19. The U.S. is Canada’s main trading partner by far, with over 70 per cent of Canada’s exports sent to the U.S. each year.

The barring of the free movement of people will represent yet another blow to the economies of both nations, with major sectors such as tourism and travel being particularly hit hard.

About 200,000 cross the border each day to work, travel, shop, and visit family. Canada's deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland described the border as a "lifeline for both the Canadians and the Americans on both sides of [the] border," on Tuesday.

At the same time, the spread of the novel coronavirus is forcing the hands of both countries to enact immediate containment measures.

Canada has seen 598 cases of coronavirus, with at least eight deaths.

The U.S., which has roughly nine times the population of Canada, has seen about 7,568 cases, and a death toll of at least 117.

Click here to learn more about Canada's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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© 2020 CIC News All Rights Reserved

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