US to close Canada border to 'non-essential' traffic: Trump

By: AFP      Published: 07:43 PM, 18 Mar, 2020
US to close Canada border to 'non-essential' traffic: Trump
Trucks wait to cross the Bluewater Bridge border crossing from Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron Michigan on March 16, 2020. AFP

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced the closure of the US-Canada border to non-essential travelers as the coronavirus epidemic intensified in both countries -- but said that trade would not be impacted.

The shutdown built on Trump's barring of visitors from most of Europe, China and other parts of the world, as the number of confirmed virus cases in the US surged past 6,500, with 115 deaths. "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!" Trump tweeted.

Canada's Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also expected to make an announcement on the issue, without providing specifics. "What the prime minister is going to announce will reassure people," he said in an interview with public broadcaster Radio-Canada.

Champagne promised new measures "proposed by both sides," noting that hundreds of thousands of people cross the border every day. On Monday, Trudeau announced that Canada was closing its borders to foreign travellers with the notable exception of Americans -- a position that drew criticism in Canada. As of Wednesday morning, Canada had around 600 confirmed coronavirus cases and eight deaths.