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USA Pushes For Border Reopening While Canada Stands Its Ground

BY: Suzann Abraham

Canada has made great progress in the battle against Covid-19. But there still exists another issue that needs to be addressed.

The Canadian-US border has been closed since March, and reopening has been postponed continually. Despite the closed border, over 10,000 U.S. citizens were turned away between March 22nd and July 12th. Almost half of them tried to enter Canada in hopes of shopping and sightseeing. Many Canadians still don’t feel comfortable enough to partake in leisure activities, let alone shopping.

Canada’s borders continue to be closed to non-essential travel. This is expected to continue until August 21st, unless the policy is extended. However, there are exceptions for essential travel, usually related to commerce and foreign workers. Despite the closed border, some US citizens have been able to enter Canada. Many were fined for not following public health rules. For example, a couple from Florida received a $1,000 fine for not complying with the 14-day quarantine period regulation. Some citizens were allowed to enter under the pretext that they were to travel to Alaska, provided they abide by regulations. But many have travelled to other provinces for recreational purposes. Addressing these violations, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo stated, “If you are coming from outside of Canada, please understand all of the efforts that Canadians have done inside of Canada to flatten the curve and to make sure that the transmission of the virus is as low as possible...Please do your part."

The extension came because many U.S. states experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases. As of July 15, Florida confirmed 300,000 cases, which is nearly three times the total number reported in Canada.

Earlier in April, U.S. President Donald Trump was preparing to ease travel restrictions. His urge to bring the American economy back to life overlooked that the United States had recently become the new epicentre of the coronavirus. They had passed 560,000 active cases, whereas Canada was only at 18,000. However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it clear that rather than ease restrictions, Canada would move to tighten them. These changes included altering self-isolation requirements and mandating that hotel stays for people exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms must be extended. He also assured Canadians that the first wave will be monitored diligently and that future policy decisions will be strict to mitigate concerns over future outbreaks. Thus, Trump’s vision to reopen the border and restart the economy will have to wait until progress is made.

Between July 8 to July 10, Ipsos surveyed 1,000 Canadians. When Canadians were asked about when the border should be reopened, an overwhelming majority voted to keep it closed until the end of 2020. Statistics also revealed that more than eight in ten Canadians surveyed said that they wanted it closed for a long period of time.2 Additionally, many Canadians were hesitant to travel during the pandemic, with 93% revealing that it would be too risky to travel to the United States during the summer. Nine of ten responded that Canada should continue to mandate the 14-day quarantine period. Furthermore, many Canadians were not comfortable travelling on public transit services, and only 36% said they were comfortable with air travel. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to these concerns on July 16, and stated that, “We’re going to keep working closely with our American neighbours to keep people safe on both sides of the border.” 

Through diligent monitoring, strict regulations, and stalwart support from its citizens, Canada has been able to show progress in infection and recovery rates. And despite new challenges that have surfaced in the wake of the coronavirus, continued prudent responses by the Canadian Government seem to be yielding positive results. 

*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.


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