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U.S.-Canadian border stays closed for another month as pandemic continues

Vehicles enter the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to travel to Canada in Detroit, Monday, March 16, 2020.
Paul Sancya
The Associated Press
Vehicles enter the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to travel to Canada in Detroit, Monday, March 16, 2020.

The United States-Canadian border is going to remain closed to all but essential travel for another month. The decision by both countries to keep the world’s longest undefended boundary shut to recreational and tourist traffic was announced over the weekend.

First word of the border remaining closed came from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In his now-daily media briefings in front of his official residence in Ottawa, he says it will be extended for another 30 days and under the same conditions.  

That means the 5,500-mile-long border will be closed until at least mid-May. He says it is an important decision that will keep people safe in both countries. 

The border first closed March 18 to all but essential traffic, like commercial goods, food and medical equipment.   

Officials from British Columbia were among the first to call for the closure. B.C. Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth says they are in support of the extension.

“And the fact that it's been extended for 30 days, I think is, you know, has the full support of the province of British Columbia,” Farnworth said.

B.C. Premier John Horgan has said there will be a “seamless integration of activities” with Washington state on any regional easing of restrictions the province and state are responsible for implementing.

The amount of COVID-19 infections and deaths are disproportionally higher in the United States than Canada. As of this past weekend, at 10 times the population, the United States counted 21 times more people testing positive and 23 times as many deaths.

As of Saturday, British Columbia reported 81 deaths due to COVID-19, and a total of 1,647 positive cases, out of a population of 5 million. Of those, 987 have fully recovered.  

Comparatively, Washington state recorded 11,802 cases, and 624 deaths, for the same time period.  

In other words, given the state’s 7.5 million population, Washington has seven times the amount of cases and almost eight times as many deaths relating to COVID-19.  

Since the border closure, any traveler entering Canada through land, air or sea, is placed under a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Last week, President Donald Trump hoped the border would be among the first things to open.

The United States Trade Representative estimates that $718.5 billion in all types of trade crossed the U.S.-Canada border in 2018. That is about $2 billion a day.

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