OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada and the United States have agreed to extend a ban on non-essential cross-border travel by another 30 days to help the fight against the coronavirus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.
“This is an important decision that will keep people in both of our countries safe,” Trudeau told reporters. The ban, introduced in mid-March, was extended in April until May 21.
Similar restrictions are in place between the United States and Mexico. A U.S. official told Reuters the three nations planned to announce an extension before the limitations expire on Wednesday.
Relations between Canada and the United States have steadily improved since a low point in June 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump accused Trudeau of being weak.
Trump though said on Tuesday that Washington should consider terminating trade deals under which it imports cattle. A new free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico comes into effect on July 1.
Canadian officials did not respond to requests for comment. Canada exported C$2.75 billion worth of beef in 2018, 74% of it to the United States.
The restrictions do not cover trade across a border that stretches 5,525 miles (8,891 km).
Trudeau said when non-essential travel restarted, Canada would need “to have strong measures in place”.
Acting U.S. Department of Homeland Security chief Chad Wolf said Washington would examine how Canada and Mexico were handling the outbreak.
“What we don’t want to do is try to open up parts of our economy and have a lot of folks coming across the border that we haven’t seen in the past 50 or 60 days,” he said at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event.
Canada’s total coronavirus death toll edged up by less than 1% to 5,857, the lowest daily increase since the crisis started, official data showed.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, David Shepardson and Ted Hesson in Washington and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
Feature Image Captions and Credits: FILE PHOTO: The U.S.-Canada border crossing is seen amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada April 17, 2020. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
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