Canada, U.S. agree to keep borders closed another 30 days: sources
OTTAWA -- Canadian and U.S. officials have agreed to keep the border between the two countries closed to non-essential travel until August 21, CTV News has confirmed.
Sources say both governments are on the same page with extending the border restriction measures for another month.
The ban on discretionary travel was first introduced in March and has been extended each month since. The latest extension was set to expire on July 21.
The agreement, as it stands, exempts the flow of trade and commerce, as well as temporary foreign workers and vital health-care workers such as nurses who live and work on opposite sides of the border. Tourists and cross-border visits remain prohibited.
During a press briefing following a call with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau teased that a decision on the border would be coming later in the week.
Trudeau said that talks were “ongoing,” and vowed to “continue to work hard to keep Canadians safe and to keep our economies flowing.”
This comes as some U.S. political figures in border states have been pressuring Canada to begin a phased reopening of the shared border, despite the surging number of new cases of COVID-19 in parts of the United States, with some regions reporting record-breaking new daily case counts.
On Monday, CNN reported that nearly one in every 100 Americans has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, with more than 3.3 million cases confirmed.
More people have died in the United States from coronavirus than there are confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada.
In an interview on CTV News Channel, Windsor, Ont. Mayor Drew Dilkens said he is happy to keep the border closed for now, and is not surprised by the decision because the current case count in the U.S. remains a “cause for alarm.”
“As much as folks in my community consider Detroit and Michigan to be an extension of our backyard — certainly used to go over for groceries and gas and shopping and professional sports and theatre — that's going to have to wait a little while longer,” he said.
At the end of June the federal government announced it would be extending to July 31 a ban on foreign travellers that exempted the United States.
The U.S. was exempt because of the ongoing a separate travel restriction agreement with Canada. It’s this agreement that sources say will be renewed for the fourth time since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.
As of June 9, foreign nationals who are immediate family members of either Canadian citizens or permanent residents can enter Canada to be reunited, under a limited exemption to the current border restrictions. This has allowed both foreign and cross-border Canada-U.S. families to reunite under certain stipulations.
There have been instances, however, when U.S. travellers have entered into Canada improperly. This has resulted in Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials being asked to take additional measures to screen who is looking to enter this country.
When asked in May what the benchmarks will be for signs it's an appropriate time to loosen travel restrictions, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said that the first step would be carefully reopening travel restrictions within Canada.
She said drastically limiting who has been able to enter the country over the last few months -- specifically international visitors -- has been key to Canada controlling the outbreak.
Even when international travel can resume, Tam said the 14-day mandatory quarantine and follow-up enforcement of that order will remain "a cornerstone" of the disease control measures.
With files from CTV News’ Michel Boyer, Sarah Turnbull and Brooklyn Neustaeter