U.S. border restrictions to last a long time yet, Trudeau says

COVID would need to be 'significantly more under control'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference on COVID-19 response on Nov. 6, 2020 in Ottawa. (File photo: Reuters/Patrick Doyle)

Ottawa | Reuters — Canada will not agree to lifting a ban on non-essential travel with the United States until the coronavirus outbreak is significantly under control around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.

Trudeau’s comments were a clear indication that the border restrictions will last well into 2021. The two neighbours agreed to the ban in March and have rolled it over on a monthly basis ever since.

The ban does not affect trade. The two countries have highly integrated economies and Canada sends 75 per cent of its goods exports to the United States every month.

“Until the virus is significantly more under control everywhere around the world, we’re not going to be releasing the restrictions at the border,” Trudeau told CBC when asked about the issue.

“We are incredibly lucky that trade in essential goods, in agricultural products, in pharmaceuticals is flowing back and forth as it always has,” he said.

Trudeau spoke the day after his minority Liberal government said the budget deficit would hit a historic $381.6 billion on COVID-19 aid and promised to spend an additional $100 billion in stimulus.

Trudeau, who relies on other parties to govern, would be toppled if the House of Commons votes against the measures but he dismissed that as unlikely.

“I am reasonably confident none of the opposition parties wants an election right now,” he later told reporters.

The border restrictions are opposed by the travel industry, hit by a slumping number of tourists.

But the premiers of Canada’s major provinces say they have no interest in re-opening the border as long as cases of COVID-19 escalate in the United States.

A second wave is also sweeping across Canada, where authorities are starting to re-impose restrictions on businesses and limit the size of gatherings.

— David Ljunggren is Reuters’ national political correspondent in Ottawa.

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