Washington, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States on Wednesday morning said the US-Canadian border will be temporarily closed to non-essential traffic as part of efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Donald Trump, however, clarified that the new measure will not affect cross-border trade.
“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The president is to give a White House press conference Wednesday to provide details on efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected a reported 5,700 people and is blamed for more than 100 deaths in the US.
British Columbia and other Canadian provinces had called for the border measure and asked Americans not to cross into Canada to avoid spreading Covid-19.
But the Canadian government had resisted taking that step due to concerns it could result in the collapse of a bilateral trade relationship valued at $628 billion annually.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday announced the closure of the border to all foreign nationals (with some exceptions) other than US citizens, saying Americans were being exempted from the travel ban for the time being due to “the level of integration of our two economies.”
The latest moves by the Trump administration are part of a series of efforts to control the virus through travel restrictions.
The US on Jan. 31 restricted travel to foreign nationals who over the previous 14 days had been to China (excluding the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau), the country where Covid-19 originated.
It then on Feb. 29 extended that same travel restriction to Iran, one of the first countries affected by the coronavirus and the nation with the third-highest number of confirmed cases and deaths (17,361 and 1,135, respectively) after China and Italy.
On March 11, the president instituted a nearly identical travel ban affecting foreign nationals who had visited a group of 26 European countries in the Schengen Area.
That move came amid a rise in confirmed cases and deaths in some European nations, primarily Italy, where 31,506 people have reportedly been infected with the novel coronavirus and more than 2,500 people have died.
Effective March 16, Trump’s European travel restriction was extended to foreign nationals departing from the United Kingdom and Ireland. EFE-EPA