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Canada to close border to non-citizens amid pandemic; Americans exempt

Associated Press

Toronto — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday he will close the country’s borders to anyone not a citizen, an American or a permanent resident, and even they have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trudeau said Canadians who are not in Canada need to come home immediately and he said they must must isolate themselves for 14 days after they arrive.

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel from the Detroit side. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that non-essential traffic would stop at the border crossing, but trade wouldn't be affected.

He also said those already in the country “as much as possible should stay home.” He spoke outside his residence, where he  is self isolating after his wife tested positive for the virus.

Trudeau said his government based its decisions on science and public health recommendation, but said Americans would exempted despite cases surging in the U.S.

“We recognize that the level of integration of our two economies,” he said.

The U.S. is by far Canada’s largest trading partner, accounting for 75% of the country’s exports. Trudeau has spoken to U.S. President Donald Trump in recent days.

He said the country is taking “increasingly aggressive steps” to keep everyone safe.

The government also is restricting overseas flights to just four airports in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, and mandating airlines to screen passengers for symptoms of the virus before allowing anyone to board a plane.

Border agents are looking over travelers for signs of illness upon arrival in Canada and questioning them about their health, including any symptoms such as cough or fever.

They are asking all arrivals to self-quarantine for 14 days to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

“ All travelers — no matter their country of origin — are assessed on arrival to Canada,” the Canada Border Services Agency said in a statement. 

The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Canada more than doubled since Friday, including 32 new confirmed cases in Ontario on Monday.

Trudeau said ”we can still slow the spread of this virus” but it will take a major adjustment from everyone.

Officials in the Pacific Coast province of British Columbia also announced three more deaths. Canada recorded its first death last week.

Traffic was not backed up on the Detroit side of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, the border crossing between the United State of America and Canada, around 2 p.m., shortly after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would close the border to non-citizens due to the coronavirus outbreak, but exempt Americans.

During an afternoon press briefing, Trump said his administration wasn't planning to close the borders.

"We think about it. We don't have to do it. That will be — we have very strong emergency powers when it comes to something like this, both on the southern and the northern borders, and we we are talking about different things," Trump told reporters. "But we'll see. Right now, we have not decided to do that."

Detroit News Staff Writer Melissa Burke contributed to this report.