President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced the closure of the US-Canada border to non-essential travelers as the coronavirus epidemic intensified in both countries — but he said that trade would not be impacted.
The shutdown of the 8,891 kilometer (5,525 mile) international boundary — the longest in the world between two countries — built on Trump’s barring of visitors from most of Europe, China and other parts of the world, as the number of confirmed virus cases in the US surged past 6,500, with 115 deaths.
“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected,” Trump tweeted.
The president later told a news conference that the border would be reopened in “say 30 days,” adding: “Hopefully at the end of 30 days we’ll be in great shape.”
In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said after speaking with Trump by telephone: “Travellers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism.
“In both our countries, we’re encouraging people to stay home,” he told a news conference. “I want to be clear, though, that essential travel will continue.“
“Supply chains including trucking will also not be affected by this new measure.“
The United States is Canada’s number one trading partner, with some 200,000 people and an estimated $2 billion worth of goods crossing the border each day.
At the main Detroit-Windsor crossing, an AFP journalist reported a significant drop in passenger vehicles, but heavy truck traffic in both directions.
“Our governments recognize that it is critical that we preserve supply chains between both countries,” Trudeau commented.
“These supply chains ensure that food fuel and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border.”
On Monday, Trudeau announced that Canada was closing its borders to foreign travellers with the exception of Americans — a position that drew criticism in Canada.
As of Wednesday, Canada had more than 600 confirmed coronavirus cases and nine deaths.