The Blue Water Bridge is a twin-span international bridge across the St. Clair River that links Port Huron, Michigan, United States, and Point Edward, Ontario, Canada. (Donna Burton/CBP)

As COVID-19 Accelerates, U.S.-Canada Border to Close to All But Essential Travel

Canada and the United States agreed Wednesday to shut the border to non-essential travel in an effort to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

Canada could be closing the border, which sees about 200,000 crossing a day, as soon as Friday night, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the details were still being worked out.

“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!” President Trump tweeted Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland asked potential last-minute crossers to “please don’t do it — it’s not good for you, it’s not good for your neighbors.”

Canada currently has 770 confirmed cases of the virus, while the United States has 10,755.

Trudeau’s office said in a statement that he talked with Trump on the phone, and the two leaders “discussed ongoing close coordination and the additional steps they are taking to protect the health and safety of their citizens in response to the COVID-19 virus.”

“They agreed to temporarily restrict non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border. Travelers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism,” Trudeau’s office continued. “The two leaders agreed that essential travel will continue and recognized that it is critical we preserve supply chains between both countries. These supply chains ensure that food, fuel, and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border.””

“The President and Prime Minister agreed to stay in close contact regarding each country’s COVID-19 response over the coming weeks and months.”

The State Department issued a Global Level 3 Health Advisory four days ago advising U.S. citizens to “reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19.” The department is reportedly preparing to hike that to level 4, the highest level, advising Americans to not travel abroad.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy and all consulates general in Canada said all forthcoming routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments were canceled.

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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