2020-03-18 – The Canada-US border will close to all non-essential travel in a measure designed to stop the spread of coronavirus.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the border is closed to travellers wishing to cross for recreation and tourism.
“These measures will last in place as long as we feel they need to last,” he said from his Ottawa residence, where he is in self-isolation.
Trudeau says the government may also restrict travel within Canada if it becomes necessary.
According to CBC News, the two countries understand the measure will hurt both sides, with hope it will be short term.
Canada Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is understood to have agreed the deal with the U.S. Departments of State, Public Safety and Homeland Security, CBC reported.
US President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday: “We will be, by mutual consent, closing our northern border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected.”
The move comes after Canada barred entry to everyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident on Monday.
At the time of that announcement, U.S. citizens, immediate family members of citizens, aircrew and diplomats were exempt.
Anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19 is not allowed to board flights to Canada, with air operators required to complete a basic health check on every passenger.
Further, international flights are now only allowed to land at airports in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.
Financial assistance is to be provided to help Canadian travellers with the costs of returning home or to cover their needs while they wait.
To help stop the coronavirus spread, the Canada Border Services Agency is to boost staff, education and screening at airports and other entry points.
Travellers from any international location will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days, after being asked if they have coronavirus symptoms: fever, coughing or difficulty breathing.
Canada currently has an official tally of 569 coronavirus, with eight deaths as of Wednesday morning.