Politico

U.S., Canada extend border closure for at least another month


OTTAWA — Canada and the United States are extending their pandemic-related restrictions at their land border for at least another month.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair made the announcement Friday on Twitter as both countries’ governments come under intensifying pressure to loosen the restrictions at the frontier — or at least lay out a clear, detailed reopening plan.

“In coordination with the U.S., we are extending restrictions on non-essential international travel and with the United States until July 21st, 2021,” Blair wrote in a message that came three days before the existing arrangement was set to expire.

Blair added that the Trudeau government’s No. 1 priority is keeping Canadians safe as the country battles Covid-19.

The restrictions: Canada-U.S. land crossings have been closed to nonessential travel since March 2020, when the public-health measures were imposed to help prevent Covid-19’s spread.

The countries have renewed a month-to-month agreement to keep the restrictions in place — and the next one expires June 21.

Last week, Canada signaled it would start easing quarantine requirements during the first week of July for returning Canadians, permanent residents and other people who are permitted to enter the country.

Blair said Friday that more details on the changes will be announced Monday.

The pressure: The big question is when Canada will start reopening its border to international travelers.

With vaccination rates rising on both sides of the border, Canadian and U.S. lawmakers, business leaders and families separated from loved ones for more than a year have been pressuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden to start easing restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers.

The delays have fed concerns the governments are being guided more by politics than science.

Provincial premiers like Ontario’s Doug Ford have urged the Trudeau government to keep tough border measures in place, while recent public opinion polls have suggested many Canadians want the border restrictions to stick around until the end of summer.

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