Canada-U.S. border restrictions expected to remain in place until at least Dec. 21: sources

Published Nov. 18, 2020 12:09 p.m. ET
Updated Nov. 18, 2020 12:43 p.m. ET

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OTTAWA -- The COVID-19 travel restrictions in place at the Canada-U.S. land border are expected to remain in effect for at least another month, sources tell CTV News.

The current agreement on the U.S.-Canada border closure to non-essential travel was first imposed in March to limit the spread of the virus. The restrictions have been renewed every month since. The current extension is set to expire on Nov. 21, but sources tell CTV News that the measures are set to be renewed through to Dec. 21.

Tourists and cross-border visits remain prohibited, although trade and commerce are exempted as are certain family members and loved ones who can make a case on compassionate grounds to be allowed into Canada from the U.S., as well as from other countries, under a series of stipulations.

Without confirming that the cross-border closure extension had been agreed to, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s office told that the decision about continuing the closures for another month “will be made in Canada, with the best interest of Canadians as our top priority.”

With COVID-19 cases continuing to climb on both sides of the border, the decision to continue restricting travel is not surprising, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and health officials have said over the course of the pandemic that until the spread is under control, easing up on the border measures would be a risk to citizens in both countries.

The agreement, as it stands, exempts vital health-care workers such as nurses who live and work on opposite sides of the border, as well as truck drivers transporting goods into Canada. According to new figures from the Canada Border Services Agency, since March Canada has admitted approximately 5.3 million travellers, most of them essential workers, who have been exempted from the mandatory 14-day quarantine to control the spread of COVID-19.

In September, U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that Canada wanted to see the border reopened, while Canadian officials said that decision will be made based on public health advice.

“We're looking at the border with Canada. Canada would like it open, and you know we want to get back to normal business,” Trump said at the time.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam has previously said the assessment of when it will be safe to allow recreational travel to resume between Canada and the U.S. is ongoing, and that Canadian health officials are in regular contact with U.S. public health authorities, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tam has also stated that the first step would be carefully reopening travel restrictions within Canada, such as lifting the Atlantic bubble.

With files from CTV News’ Michel Boyer

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