BY ARUL LOUIS
New York, March 18 (IANS) US and Canada will be closing their borders temporarily because of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday.
However, he said that trade will not be affected.
“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic,” he said.
The 8,840-kilometre border is longest between two countries and not heavily protected or patrolled.
Earlier public media outlet, Canada Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), reported that according to its sources, the border would be closed to shoppers and tourists but allow commercial traffic to keep the supply chains intact.
Many people living in either country work on the other side of the border and for many Canadians, it is cheaper to shop on the American side for some items.
“Nearly 200,000 people cross that border every day and that border and that traffic that goes across that border is literally a lifeline for both the Canadians and the Americans on both sides of that border,” CBC quoted Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland as saying on Tuesday.
“Very urgently needed medical supplies and medicines go back and forth across that border. And essential workers go back and forth across that border every day,” she added.
Canada had earlier barred the entry of everyone but citizens, permanent residents and Americans to the country.
Canada has 598 cases of Covid-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University (JHU), which has been collecting data on the pandemic. With a population more than nine times the size of Canada, the US has 6,519 cases.
The US is also tightening controls at its southern border with Mexico, where only 93 cases have been reported according to JHU.
As a first step, US is returning anyone caught crossing the border illegally immediately back to Mexico without detaining them.
So far, the border is open for citizens and others with legal documents.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @arulouis)