On the same day an extension of the U.S.-Canada border closure was announced, U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that the border would soon be reopened.
“We’re looking at the border with Canada. Canada would like it opened and, you know, we want to get back to normal business,” he said Friday.
Trump went on to praise the U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade agreement, and say that the border would be reopening “pretty soon” — potentially by the end of the year.
“Could be,” he said. “We’re working with Canada.”
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair took to Twitter earlier on Friday and announced the extension of the border closure, which was set to expire Sept. 21.
The U.S. and Canada border will remain closed until at least Oct. 21 in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are extending non-essential travel restrictions with the United States until October 21st, 2020. We will continue to base our decisions on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe,” he tweeted.
Asked to respond to Trump’s statement, a spokesperson referred Global News to Blair’s previous tweet.
The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to travel like as vacations and shopping trips since mid-March — it does not cover trade or travel by air. The agreement has been extended on a monthly basis.
As of Friday, Canada has reported 142,879 coronavirus cases and 9,249 deaths. The U.S. has reported 6,678,382 cases and 197,696 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would not be in a rush to open the border, as doing so may spark a second wave.
“If we take steps too quickly, if we are not sure of what we’re doing at each stage, we risk hitting a second wave … and having to close our economy again,” he said.
There had been a previous effort from U.S. Congress members to reopen the border with Canada amid the pandemic.
In early July, a bipartisan group of 29 federal lawmakers sent a letter to Blair and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, urging both countries to “immediately craft a comprehensive framework for phased reopening of the border.”
“Continuing to extend border restrictions at 30-day intervals is untenable for the communities that have been separated from family and unable to tend to their property for over three months,” the group argued.
In response to the letter, a spokesperson for the office of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said that while conversations between Canada and the U.S. about the border are ongoing, “both sides agree that the current measures in place” have “worked well.”
“Our absolute priority is the health and safety of Canadians,” Katherine Cuplinskas said in an email. “That is why we want to be clear that decisions about Canada’s border are made by Canadians, for Canadians.”
Although the Canada-U.S. land border remains closed until at least Oct. 21, Canadians can still fly into the U.S. as long as they have not recently been to countries such as China, Brazil or the United Kingdom.
The government of Canada still emphasizes that all non-essential travel outside of Canada must be avoided. The government has made it clear on its website that people deciding to travel during the pandemic could not only put themselves and others at risk of being infected with the novel coronavirus, it could also result in them becoming stranded.
— With files from Global News’ Kerri Breen and Sean Boynton
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