Canada to close borders by midnight and turning back asylum seekers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Friday that “exceptional” measures must be taken during exceptional times to protect public health amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic. 

As part of the new extreme measures taking place, Canada will now be turning back asylum seekers who are attempting to enter the country at official border points. Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, asylum seekers were already barred from entering Canada but migrants continued to arrive by foot due to an exception for non-official crossings in the agreement. 

Another agreement that is expected to be implemented is the closure of the Canada-U.S. border for any non-essential travel by midnight tonight (March 20, 2020). Prime Minister Justin Trudeau describes these measures as unprecedented but very much necessary in a response to a public health emergency. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously announced on Wednesday, March 18, the border between Canada and the U.S. will be temporarily closed to non-essential traffic.

Essential travel will continue,” in order to preserve “critical” supply chains between the two countries

Shipments, trade and commerce will not be affected by the new restrictions. Trucking which allows food, fuel and life-saving medicines to move between Canada and the U.S. will not be affected. 

“We know there is always more to do and we will encourage people to stay home, to practise social distancing, not just to protect themselves but also to protect our health care workers and the system that is working so hard to keep Canadians safe and healthy,” said the Canadian Prime Minister.

The border was already closed on Wednesday, March 18, to most foreigners and international flights were rerouted to four airports in Canada where enhanced screening measures are being implemented. Passengers returning to Canada are also required to self-isolate themselves for 14 days, an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the same day, March 18, Prime Minister also announced  $82 Billion aid-package to help Canadians and businesses with income support, wage subsidies and tax deferment in the fight against the rapidly spreading pandemic. 

As of Friday, March 20, at 9:00 p.m, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada has surpassed the 1,000 mark, totalling 1086 cases across 10 provinces. There are more than 275,000 cases globally.

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