The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least a few more weeks as both countries grapple with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Saturday (April 18) that the current agreement, which was set to expire on April 21, would be extended for another 30 days.
The agreement was originally implemented in March, as both sides of the border started to see an uptick in confirmed cases. Originally, Canada closed its borders to all foreign travellers except for the U.S. just a few days before the agreement was made.
“We needed to ensure this could be done in a coordinated manner that keep our supply chains open, and we wanted to do it in cooperation with our closest partner and ally,” Trudeau said from outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Saturday.
“These measures were absolutely critical to protecting Canadians and stopping the spread of the virus.”
Under the extended agreement, the same terms apply when it comes to goods and services, Trudeau said, including that health-care workers still being allowed to cross the border as needed.
“This is an important decision and one that will keep people on both sides of the border safe.”
Under mounting pressure to restart the economy, President Donald Trump has suggested in recent days that he would support relaxing travel restrictions. He said that Canada is “doing well” in its efforts to control the spread of the virus.
Trudeau said on Thursday that there will be “special thought” given to the U.S. when coordinating the reopening of the border with White House officials, calling the relationship one that is “quite unlike any other.”
“We will continue to look at ways to move forward in this pandemic, we recognize it will be time still,” he said. “We recognize there is a need to protect our citizens as every country is doing.”
At this time, any Canadians returning home from outside the country face a mandatory 14-day quarantine period. Anyone without a suitable quarantine plan will be forced to stay in a nearby hotel.