They’re the words we all knew had gone unsaid since the U.S.-Canada border closed in March, but now Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau has spoken them out loud.
Essentially, Canada will not reopen the border to nonessential travel until the U.S. has COVID under control.
“The U.S. is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders,” he told the hosts of “The Start” radio show. “We will continue to make sure that Canadian safety is top of mind when we move forward. We see the cases in the United States and elsewhere around the world, and we need to continue to keep these border controls in place.”
The border, which originally closed on March 21, has been reviewed for reopening every month and each time it’s been agreed by federal officials on both sides that it will remain closed due to the continued threat of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. However some officials on the U.S. side, especially those from border states, have said they would like the border to reopen for non-essential travel, mainly due to economic reasons.
“The protracted closure of the world’s longest international land border to all but essential travel has put immense strain on the communities that straddle the border,” senators from Maine and New Hampshire recently wrote to president Trump.
Said president recently told reporters that, “we’re looking at the border with Canada” and “we’re going to be opening the borders pretty soon.”
However Trudeau made it clear in his radio interview that Canada, with cases nowhere near the numbers of those in the U.S., has had no intention of allowing vast numbers of U.S. residents to enter their country until their neighbors to the south show a significant decrease in COVID-19.
Canada did loosen its international travel restrictions last month, to allow more travel back and forth between the border, albeit under specific circumstances. Shopping and tourism are, obviously, not included under those circumstances and this is what’s happening to those who try.
Trudeau also had a special word of warning for Canadians who are “snowbirds” and typically stay in southern U.S. states for the winter:
“I know there’s a lot of people worried about what’s happening south of the border in Florida, Arizona, California and other places where the virus is not under control or less under control than we are here,” said Trudeau. “The challenges around the health care system being overloaded down there and access to health insurance – making sure you have coverage in case something does happen – are a lot more difficult.
“Ultimately, if someone chooses to travel, we’re not going to keep them imprisoned in Canada. There’s freedom of movement in this country,” he continued. “Still, people have to recognize they’re putting themselves at risk, putting their loved ones at risk. And they may not have the right kind of health insurance or repatriation flights that we did early on if they choose to leave the country.”
Feature Photo (cropped): Jimmy Emerson, DMV / flickr
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary