The US and Canada have mutually decided to close their borders to all “non-essential” travel between the two countries.
President Donald Trump says the U.S. and Canada have agreed to close the border to “non-essential traffic,” but importantly added that trade will not be affected.
Both countries are eager to choke off the spread of the virus but also eager to continue the critical economic relationship. Canada relies on the U.S. for 75 percent of its exports. Truck drivers are among those expected to get an exemption.
Completely closing the border would cause severe economic damage to both the U.S. and Canada.
Prompting the decisions — as of Wednesday morning — there were 6,519 cases and 114 deaths in the United States. Canada, meanwhile, has recorded 598 cases of coronavirus and has so far had eight fatalities nationwide.
The move comes as countries across the globe shut down their borders in order to combat the virus that has brought daily life to a virtual standstill. Trump on Saturday added the U.K. and Ireland to a 30-day European travel ban, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday previously had closed Canada’s borders to all foreign nationals except U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
Trudeau said the exemption for Americans at the time was due to “the level of integration of our two economies.”
Canada relies on the U.S. for 75 percent of its exports. Much of Canada’s food supply comes from or via the U.S., and 98 percent of its oil exports go to the U.S. About 18 percent of American exports go to Canada.
Trudeau is currently in self-quarantine after his wife Sophie tested positive for the virus.
A senior administration official told the press that the administration has already explored the possibility of “new restrictions” on the southern U.S. border, because of fears that once the virus hits Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, citizens of those countries will begin to travel to the U.S. border in large numbers to try to access the U.S. healthcare system.
“President Trump is 100 percent committed to protecting the American people from coronavirus and all options are in the table,” a DHS spokesperson told the Associated Press.