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'This is a difficult situation': Trudeau offers little hope to families separated by border closure

Last Updated May 15, 2020 at 10:41 am PDT

FILE - Justin Trudeau says it's still too early for Canada to confront the challenges that will come with reopening the shared border with the United States. (NEWS 1130 photo)

PM once again asked about families who are separated due to the border restrictions in place amid COVID-19 pandemic

Justin Trudeau stresses rules are in place to keep Canadians safe and to stop spread of COVID-19

Travel across the Canada-U.S. border is restricted to essential traffic only

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is once again not offering any hope to couples and families separated by the border closure.

While he admits he’s sympathetic, Trudeau said Friday Canadians across the country are facing extremely difficult situations.

“Whether it be families who can’t grieve the loss of a parent or a loved one because they cannot gather and they cannot hold funerals because of COVID-19, these are things that are extraordinarily difficult,” he said. “Families are stretched across the country and unable to see each other. People are stuck oversees, and despite the hundreds of repatriation flights we’ve brought, there are others who simply can’t come home.”

Currently, travel across the Canada-U.S. border is restricted to essential traffic only.

Trudeau stressed the priority is the safety of Canadians.

“This is a difficult situation,” the prime minister added. “Every step of the way, we need to do what is necessary right now to keep Canadians safe. That is our priority. To control the spread of COVID-19, to make sure that we get it under control in Canada, and that we prevent importation from other countries.”

The mutual border agreement is set to expire next week, however, it will likely be extended another month.

On Thursday, Trudeau was asked about the case of an American man trying to cross the border for the birth of his son — only to be denied by border guards.

“Obviously, we’re trying to make sure that people can do the things that are most essential,” he said Thursday at his daily briefing, adding over the past few weeks, Canadians have been put in tough situations.

A petition calling for the government to allow immediate family members of Canadians to enter the country has been gaining signatures each day.

-With files from Martin MacMahon and Hana Mae Nassar