Canada, US 'likely to extend travel restrictions until June 21'
It’s too early to lift the restrictions, so we’re working toward an extension, says a Canadian government source
OTTAWA/WASHINGTON: Canada and the United States appear likely to extend a ban on non-essential travel until June 21 amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, sources in both nations said on Wednesday.
The two neighbors had agreed on April 18 to extend border restrictions until May 21 as cases of the disease continue to rise in both nations. Canada is now pressing for the measures to stay in place for another month.
“It’s too early to lift the restrictions, so we’re working toward an extension,” said one Canadian government source, describing the talks with Washington as positive. A second government source said the discussions had been collaborative.
In Washington, a US official confirmed the two sides were set to agree on a 30-day extension.
On Tuesday, the chief Canadian public health officer said the United States - where cases are increasing steadily - presented a risk to Canada.
The sources requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation. News of the Canadian request for a 30-day extension was first reported by the Globe and Mail newspaper.
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The agreement allows the flow of goods across a border that stretches 8,891 km (5,525 miles) and is a crossing point for one of the world’s largest bilateral trading relationships.
The United States takes 75% of all Canadian goods exports.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday Canada was “looking at stronger measures” to ensure the coronavirus was not being spread by border crossers, but gave no details.
The Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec are adjacent to the state of New York, one of the US epicenters of the disease. Canadian officials have been repeatedly pressed about the potential risk posed by arriving truck drivers.
Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, on Tuesday said the coronavirus “could take off rapidly” unless extreme caution was exercised about relaxing the ban.
“We need to be able to see what happens when we ease the domestic public health measures before we can essentially look at the international border easing up,” she told a briefing.
“The United States being one country that still has cases and is still trying to manage outbreaks ... presents a risk to Canada from that perspective.”