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Canada extends border restrictions with United States until late November

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Canada and the United States will maintain border restrictions until at least the end of November as the coronavirus outbreak in both countries continues to worsen.

Canada’s Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Monday in a tweet announcing the extension that the decision was based on “the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe.”

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The measures, first imposed in March, were due to expire on Oct. 21. The month-long ban, which does not cover trade or travel by air, has been rolled over several times.

The newest range of restrictions runs out on Nov. 21.

Asked about the border on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the “situation in the United States continues to be of concern.”

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He said his government has been working closely with American counterparts on the measure and that any changes to it would be done “as safely as possible” for Canadians.

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“I think everyone understands we’d love to get back to normal. We’d love to have the border open, a whole bunch of our businesses and communities would appreciate getting American tourists back and have family members come back-and-forth freely, but we can’t do that unless we’re comfortable that Canadians are being kept safe,” he told Global News’ AM900 CHML before the official extension announcement.

“We can’t talk about recovering our economy until we have this virus under control and, actually, controlling this virus is the best way to help our economy grow.”

By contrast, U.S. President Donald Trump claimed in September that the border would soon be reopened, and that “Canada would like it opened.”

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He claimed it “could” reopen by the end of the year. “We’re working with Canada,” he said.

The partial closure restricts crossing to commercial traffic, those returning to their home country, and other essential travel. It bars anyone travelling between the two countries for things like tourism or shopping.

Travellers who are allowed into Canada are required to quarantine for 14 days or else face serious penalties.

The Canadian government eased border restrictions ever so slightly as of Oct. 8, allowing more family members of Canadians or permanent residents to enter the country. The amendment allows adult children, grandparents, siblings of a Canadian or permanent resident to enter the country, provided they stay for at least 16 days.

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It also allows those who are in a “committed relationship” for at least one year with a Canadian or permanent resident to enter.

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A recent report by Statistics Canada found that vehicular traffic coming into Canada from the U.S. has remained low as the travel restrictions are in place. The agency said the number of U.S. travellers who crossed in Canada by car in September was down 94 per cent compared to the same time last year.

— with files from the Canadian Press