Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the Canada-U.S. border will remain closed for a further month as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Trudeau revealed the extension in a news conference on Tuesday.
The original agreement, reached between Canada and the U.S. in March, was due to expire on May 21 but has been extended until June 21.
It means the border is closed to ‘non-essential’ traffic.
In the same press conference, Trudeau was asked when international travel might resume. He responded by saying the decision was being made on a week-by-week basis due to the rapidly changing situation cause by COVID-19.
The restrictions saw immigration to Canada fall 26 percent in March, with April figures yet to become available.
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Currently, each of Canada’s provinces is doing all it can to safely re-open following virus-related lockdowns, looking to kickstart their economies after an incredibly difficult period.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has offered guidance on what constitutes essential and non-essential travel.
Reasons considered ‘non-essential’ include:
- To visit family for a vacation.
- For the birth of a grandchild, nephew, niece, cousin, etc. (For the parent of a child, this may be considered non-discretionary travel; however, it will still require assessment.)
- To spend time at a secondary residence (vacation home, hunting or fishing lodge, etc.). This includes entry for upkeep or maintenance purposes.
- To attend the funeral of a family member (This purpose of travel would be improbable due to quarantine measures and limits to the number of attendees at funerals under provincial restrictions.)
Reasons considered ‘essential’ include travel for:
- Economic services and supply chains.
- Critical infrastructure support.
- Health (immediate medical care), safety and security.
- Supporting Indigenous communities.
- Transiting through Canada for non-optional or non-discretionary purposes.
- Studying in Canada if already approved for a study permit on or before March 18.
- Tending to family matters for non-optional or non-discretionary purposes (such as bringing supplies to elderly parents or tending to sick family members) when there is no one else available in Canada to assist.
- Any other activities that are deemed non-optional or non-discretionary by the Government of Canada or based on an officer’s assessment.
People wishing to enter Canada have faced some issues with the interpretations of the rule differing between IRCC and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
This has resulted in travellers turning up at the border expecting to be able to cross, but then not being allowed.
14-Day Self-Quarantine Plan
Regardless of the reason for travel or exemption, any traveller with COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to enter Canada.
Furthermore, anyone entering Canada from the US or any other country will be required to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days upon entry.
Travellers are also required to present a quarantine plan, with details of where they will stay, how they will get groceries and medication and whether they will be staying with vulnerable people.