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Canada, U.S. to temporarily close border to non-essential traffic over coronavirus

Canada-U.S. border closed to non-essential travel
WATCH: Canada-U.S. border closed to non-essential travel

The border between Canada and the U.S. will be temporarily closed to non-essential traffic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday.

According to Trudeau, the decision was made mutually, and is a “collaborative” and “reciprocal” measure to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Trudeau said “essential travel will continue,” in order to preserve “critical” supply chains between countries.

“Canadians and Americans cross the border every day to do essential work or for other urgent reasons — that will not be impacted,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

READ MORE: Live updates — Coronavirus in Canada

He clarified that trucking which allows food, fuel and life-saving medicines to move between Canada and the U.S. will not be affected.

Those who need to travel for essential work, or for other “urgent reasons” will not be impacted by the closure, Trudeau said.

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U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed the announcement in a tweet Wednesday morning.

According to the Trump, the decision was made with “mutual consent.”

In the tweet, Trump also reiterated that trade would not be affected by the move and that more details would be released.

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The introduction of the ban follows the federal government’s announcement on Monday to close its borders to most foreign travellers in order to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Duane Bratt on why Trudeau didn’t close our border to U.S. travellers
Duane Bratt on why Trudeau didn’t close our border to U.S. travellers

Trudeau previously said the country will close its borders to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

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He said the restrictions would come into effect on Wednesday but that certain exceptions would be made for diplomats, aircrews, immediate family members and U.S. citizens.

Trudeau’s announcement was also followed by a series of new measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Canadian employment insurance to be expanded in new stimulus package

 

Air operators will be banned from allowing anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 from getting on a plane to Canada, while all international travel will be redirected to four Canadian airports.

A new financial support system, now known as the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad, will also be created to assist residents abroad who are directly impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Canada closes borders to most non-Canadians; U.S. citizens still allowed
Canada closes borders to most non-Canadians; U.S. citizens still allowed

A statement from Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne on Monday night detailing the program said Canadians can apply for a loan of up to $5,000 to either secure their return to Canada or “cover their life-sustaining needs” during the process of returning home.

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READ MORE: Trudeau closes Canadian borders to most foreign travellers amid coronavirus outbreak

Also on Wednesday, Trudeau announced the federal government would spend up to $82 billion on measures to support the Canadian economy through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money will come through a combination of direct supports for workers and businesses and tax deferrals, he said.

 

To date, the novel coronavirus has infected nearly 200,000 and killed close to 8,000 people worldwide.

As of Tuesday evening, Canada has confirmed at least 569 cases and five deaths.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Trudeau says House of Commons expected to reconvene for emergency measures

-With files from Global News’ Hannah Jackson