WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S.-Canadian border will remain shut to nonessential travel until at least June 21 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.
“We love our American neighbors to the south, but right now, we’re going to have to keep the borders closed,” Trudeau said at a news briefing in Ottawa. “We just can’t risk it.”
The border had been scheduled to reopen on Thursday, but under Trudeau’s latest decision, it will remain largely shut into the summer season — and for at least three months in total.
“This is an important decision that will keep people in both of our countries safe,” Trudeau said.
The U.S. and Canada first agreed to shut the border on March 21, limiting travel to commercial truck drivers, healthcare professionals and others involved in trade and commerce.
Originally intended to last a month, the shutdown was first extended for another month in April.
Trudeau said Canadian regional leaders, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford, favored keeping the border restrictions in place.
Asked when Canada might reopen its borders to international visitors, Trudeau said his government evaluates the situation weekly.
“Every step, we have to make the right decisions based on the circumstances,” he said.
The decision is likely to have a major impact on many Buffalo-area residents who visit summer cottages, beaches and wineries in Ontario as the weather warms.
Trudeau said he is trying to return Canada to normal after two months of restrictions, but that safety had to remain the priority.
“We’re going to keep making those decisions as time goes on,” he said. “I think it was the right thing to further extend by 30 days our closure of the Canada-U.S. border to travelers other than essential services and goods, but we will continue to watch carefully what’s happening elsewhere in the world and around us as we make decisions on next steps.”