Covid-19: Canada-US border to close on Saturday

Saturday, 21 Mar, 2020

While many civil servants who will be needed to roll out the aid package are working from home, Trudeau said the government has spent the last few days ensuring the capacity to get the money out because too many Canadians and businesses are "looking at their sources of income dry up because of COVID-19".

Amid growing economic turmoil, workers across the country have been idled at home, the U.S. The human traffic has been so heavy that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has an office on the Canadian side and welcomes migrants - mostly families who have applied for visas to the USA, travel to Plattsburgh and then continue on foot into Canada.

"Many businesses put their hand up and asked us what they can do", Trudeau said to reporters Friday morning.

"These are exceptional measures to protect citizens", Trudeau told a news conference.

Trudeau has been in self-isolation for almost a week because his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 13, after a trip to England.

Watch the prime minister's full update below.

The move builds on the U.S. president's barring of visitors from most of Europe, China and other parts of the world as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States surged past 9,400, with 150 deaths.

But many in Canada criticized the decision to give Americans an exemption, including British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix, citing the surge in cases in neighboring Washington state. Seven of the fatalities have occurred in British Columbia, which has also surpassed the 200-case mark.

It has now been nine days since the National Basketball Association suspended its season, which in hindsight was the turning point for the COVID-19 crisis in North America.

Extra travel right now, based on government guidance, could be a hindrance to public health in stopping the spread of the virus.

"Over past week, Service Canada and many government agencies have received an historic number of calls from concerned Canadians", Trudeau said. She also warned against anyone trying to cross at the last minute. An estimated 3 million Canadians live or work overseas.

Trump has said the Canada-US border will likely be reopened in "say 30 days". The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

Finally, the latest public opinion research data from Campaign Research, as provided exclusively to the Star, suggest that Canadians "are more anxious about the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic than they are over the health effects of the virus", although as pollster Richard Ciano noted, "the poll was conducted before Ottawa's massive bailout measures", which were unveiled on Wednesday.