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Trump: US, Canada agree to close border to ‘non-essential traffic’

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with tourism industry executives about the coronavirus, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with tourism industry executives about the coronavirus, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TORONTO, ONT – The U.S. and Canada have agreed to temporarily close their shared border to nonessential travel, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday as the two nations work to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Both countries are eager to choke off the spread of the virus but also maintain their vital economic relationship. Canada relies on the U.S. for 75% of its exports.

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Trump made the announcement on Twitter, saying the decision would not affect the flow of trade between the countries.

“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic,” Trump tweeted.

Truck drivers and Canadian snowbirds, who live in the U.S. for part of the year and are returning to Canada, are among those expected to get an exemption. Completely closing the border would cause severe economic damage to both the U.S. and Canada as the two economies are integrated. Much of Canada’s food supply comes from or via the U.S., and and 98% of its oil exports go to the U.S.

About 18% of American exports go to Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday he would close the country’s borders to anyone not a citizen, an American or a permanent resident, and even then they must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Trudeau said the exemption for Americans, despite the rapid rise of cases in the U.S., was due to “the level of integration of our two economies.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

The United States has seen about 6,500 coronavirus cases and more than 110 deaths while Canada has seen about 600 cases and eight deaths.