The Canada-U.S. land border first closed to all non-essential traffic on March 21, 2020, just as coronavirus cases began showing up with greater frequency in the U.S. and Canada. And given the recent surge in cases, it came as no surprise when the federal government announced last month that the Canada-U.S. land border would remain closed until August 21, 2020, per CBC Canada.
According to the Economist, America would love to have the borders reopened as soon as possible – but with covid-19 spreading fast in most American states, Canadians would rather the U.S. keep their COVID-19 cases in America.
The Canadian government has already banned all home games for the Toronto Blue Jays, fearing visiting teams would bring the coronavirus into the country.This decision forced the Blue Jays to choose Buffalo, New York to play their “home” games.
In early July, 29 members of the U.S. Congress sent a joint letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Canadian government, asking that both countries start working on a phased reopening of the border. Representative Brian Higgins posted a copy of the letter on Twitter – a big mistake on his part.
Leading a bipartisan push calling on the U.S. and Canada to begin preparing guidance for the reopening of the Northern Border pic.twitter.com/ZxARKfhH62
— Brian Higgins (@RepBrianHiggins) July 3, 2020
On Friday, the Canadian government issued a reminder, advising citizens that under the Quarantine Act, travel restrictions are still in place at all international border stations between the U.S. and Canada. All optional and discretionary travel, including tourism, is banned at all Canadian ports of entry and in all modes of transportation — land, boat, air and rail.
“Asymptomatic immediate family members, spouses or common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who meet the immediate family member definition and are coming to Canada for a minimum of 15 days will be exempt from the prohibition from entering Canada for a discretionary purpose,” a release from the CBA said on Friday.
The bottom line? According to economist Moshe Lander, given public opinion, it would be “political suicide” for Canadian politicians to contemplate reopening the border right now.
“As long as Canadians don’t feel safe, then why force open that border when there’s no strong political logic to doing it?” said Lander, a professor at Concordia University in Montreal. He predicts it could be as late as the middle of 2021 before the border reopens.