Ottawa, April 18 (IANS) The Canada-US border was unlikely to reopen for non-essential travel soon as the COVID-19 pandemic was still raging in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
“We know that there is a significant amount of time still before we can talk about loosening such restrictions,” Xinhua news agency quoted Trudeau as saying.
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump indicated that there could be a loosening of measures sooner rather than later at the border, saying “Canada is doing well”.
Last month, the two countries agreed to close the border for non-essential travel to combat the pandemic, exempting the flow of trade and commerce, as well as vital health-care workers like nurses who live and work on opposite sides of the border.
Some $1.7 billion worth of goods and more than 400,000 people reportedly crossed the border each day on average prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the decision of when to lift restrictions will not be made unilaterally by the US.
“What I can guarantee is that decisions about Canada’s border are taken by Canadians. Full stop.
“And when it comes to easing border restrictions of all kinds, our government will only do that when it is appropriate and when it is not a risk to health and safety of Canadians,” Freeland said.
The Trudeau government will keep the border restriction in place for at least several more weeks, according to Canadian television network CTV.
Canada has reported 31,642 COVID-19 cases and 1,310 deaths.