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The border between Canada and the U.S. will remain closed until June 21 to nonessential travel as both countries monitor the coronavirus pandemic.
President Trump said Tuesday that although there are lingering worries about the economies of border states suffering due to continued shutdowns, he is optimistic that restrictions could be lifted before the agreed-upon deadline.
“Canada’s our neighbor. We have a great relationship. We love Canada, So we’re going to be talking and at the right time, we’ll open that up very quickly,” Trump said. “That’ll go over easily.”
Acting U.S. Secretary Chad Wolf said nonessential travel will not be permitted until the administration is convinced that doing so is safe and secure.
“We have been in contact with our Canadian and Mexican counterparts and they also agree that extending these restrictions is prudent at this time,” Wolf said in a statement.
Essential cross-border workers like health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still permitted to cross. Truck drivers are critical as they move food and medical goods in both directions. Much of Canada’s food supply comes from or via the U.S.
Canada sends 75 percent of its exports to the U.S. and about 18 percent of American exports go to Canada.
Americans who are returning to America and Canadians returning to Canada are also exempted from the border closure.
The director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, also said the restrictions should remain in effect until the CDC “determines that the danger of further introduction of COVID-19 into the United States from covered aliens has ceased to be a serious danger to the public health.”
The border closures first went into effect in March and were renewed one other time — in April — as deaths and infections due to the coronavirus continued to mount.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday the border is a source of vulnerability and added that the continued measure “will keep people in both of our countries safe.”
Trudeau also added that officials continue to examine efforts to beef up testing and contact tracing at the border as needed.
“These are ongoing questions,” he said. “But even now, we know that we need to do more to ensure that travelers who are coming back from overseas or from the United States as Canadians are properly followed up on, are properly isolated and don’t become further vectors for the spread of COVID-19,”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.