As parts of the U.S. economy opened this week after several weeks of closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak, officials have agreed to keep the border between the U.S. and Canada closed to nonessential traffic until June 21. The original closure order was set to expire on May 21.
Although President Donald Trump has shown eagerness to reopen “everything,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada’s provincial leaders have been more cautious. On May 19, Trudeau said, “These are ongoing questions. We’ve given ourselves another month before we have to have the right answers to those questions on nonessential travel.”
Trudeau also said, “But even now, we know we need to do more to ensure that travelers who are coming back from overseas or the United States as Canadians are properly followed up, properly isolated and don’t become further vectors for the spread of COVID-19.”
Truck drivers and other essential travelers, however, are exempted from the closure. Truck drivers carrying food, medical goods, and other trade items have been seen as critical for the two nations.
Canada imports about $25 billion in agricultural products, representing more than 15% of the U.S.’s total agricultural exports to the world.
Trudeau indicated that even as the health emergency declines there will be a need for testing at the border for anyone attempting to enter Canada, saying that his nation “recognizes that increased contact tracing and increased testing will be key to a reopened Canadian economy.”
“We need to make sure, right across the country, that we have a strong capacity to respond wherever there is a flare-up of COVID-19,” Trudeau said, “and that means having significant resources at the availability of all regions and provinces. We need to have strong measures in place, and we’re looking at that closely.”
On the U.S.’s southern border the closure is also set to end on May 21, but officials from Mexico and the U.S. are in current negotiations to extend the restrictions into June.