Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday the ban on nonessential travel with the United States will not be lifted until COVID-19 is significantly more under control around the world.
Canada and the U.S. have limited border crossings since March, extending the restrictions each month.
“Until the virus is significantly under more control everywhere around the world, we are not going to be releasing the restrictions at the border,” Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
“We are incredibly lucky that trade in essential goods, in agriculture products, in pharmaceuticals is flowing back and forth as it always had,” he said. “It’s just people not travelling, which I think is the important thing.”
Trudeau said although President-elect Joe Biden has an “obvious” different approach to the pandemic than President Donald Trump, the situation in the U.S. remains serious and it will take awhile to change that.
About 400,000 people crossed the world’s longest international border each day before the pandemic.
About 75% of Canada’s exports go to the U.S. which has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world.
Trudeau has come under criticism from opposition parties for saying Canadians won’t be among the first to get a vaccine against COVID-19 because the first doses will likely go to citizens of the countries they are made in. Canada doesn’t have mass vaccine-production facilities.
But Trudeau said at a news conference on Tuesday that Canada was among the first to pre-order Moderna’s vaccine candidate and, “We are guaranteed some of Moderna’s first batch if the vaccine is safe and approved.”
“Already, Moderna has submitted their candidate for Health Canada review, as have Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford. And just yesterday, Johnson & Johnson joined this list as the fourth candidate for Health Canada’s review.”