Canada and the U.S. will temporarily close non-essential travel across the border, however, restrictions will not be applied to trade.
U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed the plans over Twitter early Wednesday (March 17) following media reports the previous night.
“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!” Trump said in a tweet.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed Canadians less than an hour later, confirming that the restrictions will last as long as necessary.
“Travellers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism,” he said, adding both countries are encouraging citizens to stay home and curtail visits with neighbours.
“This collaborative and reciprocal measure is an extension of that prudent approach.”
The prime minister said both governments recognize that they must preserve supply chains through both countries.
“These supply chains ensure that food, fuel and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border,” Trudeau said.
“Supply chains, including trucking, will not be affected by this new measure. Canadians and Americans cross the border every day to do essential work or for other urgent reasons. That will not be impacted.”
He added that Canada and the U.S. are currently working on specific rules to manage the border to ensure the flow of goods while minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said conversations with grocery store CEOs tell him supply chains are working efficiently to ensure supplies remain available.
He urged people not to hoard supplies.
“We all need to work together at this time,” Morneau said.
—With a file from Jeremy Hainsworth