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Canada, U.S. working on mutual deal to restrict non-essential travel amid coronavirus pandemic: CNN

Last Updated Mar 18, 2020 at 6:33 am PDT

A border walks by a closed gate at the in Thousand Islands border, near Gananqoue, Ont., on Monday March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Canada and the U,S. are working out the details of a mutual ban on non-essential travel to slow spread of COVID-19

CNN reports a federal government official in Ottawa said talks are ongoing, but an announcement could soon

The restrictions would be designed to ensure that cross-border trade and commerce can continue

WASHINGTON — The wishes of B.C.’s top health officials are being answered.

A federal government source in Ottawa says Canada and the United States are working out the details of a mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The official, responding to a report by CNN citing American government figures, spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose details of talks that are still ongoing. The network reported late Tuesday that the two countries are working on a joint statement that would be issued in within a day or two.

Limiting non-essential travel at border crossings is something both B.C.’s provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and B.C.’s health minister Adrian Dix have been calling for.

“I don’t think either of us think that we should be closing the border to U.S. citizens blanket. We have an interconnected economy, we have interconnected essential services and goods that move across our borders all the time,” said Henry on Tuesday during her regular COVID-19 update. “What we are requesting, and what I agree with, is that the border be closed to visitors. People who are coming from the U.S. to visit in British Columbia.”

“It’s pretty straightforward,” said Dix at the same news conference. “Visitors shouldn’t be coming here from the United States, from Washington state especially, given what’s going on in Washington state right now and in King County in particular.”

The restrictions reportedly being discussed between the Trudeau government and Trump administration would be designed to ensure that cross-border trade and commerce can continue.

To that end, the Canadian official says the two sides are discussing which essential workers might be exempted, a group that could include truck drivers hauling critical cargo, airline crew members and health-care workers whose homes and jobs are on opposite sides of the border.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the closure of Canada’s borders to all non-residents and non-citizens Monday, but with some exceptions — including U.S. citizens.

Canadians vacationing in the U.S., such as snowbirds, would also be able to get home.