Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said that the Canada-US border was unlikely to reopen for non-essential travel soon as the COVID-19 pandemic was still raging in Canada.
PM Trudeau further said, “We know that there is a significant amount of time still before we can talk about loosening such restrictions”, according to the media report.
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump indicated that there could be a loosening of measures sooner rather than later at the border, saying “Canada is doing well”.
The border — the world’s longest international frontier at 8,900 kilometers (5,500 miles) — was shut to all non-essential travelers on both sides on March 21 in response to the coronavirus crisis. Cross-border trade has continued.
On Thursday, Trudeau said, “the reality is that it will still be many weeks” before “we can talk about relaxing the restrictions on our borders,”
On April 12, Canadian parliament has passed a massive COVID-19 relief bill, deemed by PM Trudeau as the country’s most significant economic program since the World War II.
Last month, the prime minister had said that it is in the US and Canada’s interests to keep the border unmilitarised after the United States floated the idea of placing troops on the Canada-US border.
Some $1.7 billion worth of goods and more than 400,000 people reportedly crossed the border each day on average prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the decision of when to lift restrictions will not be made unilaterally by the US.
“And when it comes to easing border restrictions of all kinds, our government will only do that when it is appropriate and when it is not a risk to health and safety of Canadians,” Freeland said.
The Trudeau government will keep the border restriction in place for at least several more weeks, according to Canadian television network CTV.
According to the latest government data, US officials apprehended 4,400 migrants at the Canada-US border in the 12 months to September 30, 2019, compared to 15,700 who crossed irregularly into Canada from the United States during the period.
The country has reported 31,642 COVID-19 cases and 1,310 deaths.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths linked to the novel coronavirus worldwide has passed 150,000, according a Johns Hopkins University tally.