When Prime Minister Trudeau and President Trump agreed to shut down the U.S. Canada land border on March 18th, this created a stir of uncertainty in the midst of a global pandemic.
Since March, there have been extensions every month of the shutdown in order to protect the borders, as the cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. The shutdown was expected to end on June 21st, but it has now been extended to July 21st.
Per capita, the U.S. has about 50% more confirmed cases of COVID-19 as well as mortality rates, Canada. According to the CDC, as of June 17th, the U.S. has over 2 million confirmed and over 116,000 deaths. From June 16th to June 17th, the numbers rose almost by 28,000 in one day. As of June 16, 2020, there had been 99,467 confirmed coronavirus cases and 8,213 deaths from the disease in Canada.
“Cases in the U.S. have already had a direct effect on Canadians. In Ontario, for example, the U.S. was the largest source of early imported cases.” Cited from a CBC article written in May. Access to healthcare and pre-existing conditions of Americans have also been cited as contributing factors.
While the U.S. administration taking a very laid-back approach to the Pandemic and a rush to reopen the economy. Many U.S. States have re-opened hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions quite rapidly. Governor Brian Kemp of the State of Georgia signed an executive order on June 11th, with no limits on the number of dine-in customers at restaurants, allowing for conventions to resume and reopening live performance venues. In addition, Kemp’s order removes the restriction of wearing face coverings permits workers at restaurants, dining rooms, banquet facilities, private event facilities and private reception venues to be mask-free, unless they are interacting with patrons.
The Canadian government has created several policies and orders implemented swiftly and efficiently. Canada has ultimately taken this pandemic more seriously and the U.S. has failed to do the same.Google data shows Canadians did physical distancing earlier, and more extensively than the U.S. Political attitudes played a role in distancing decisions, with an administration that has often times downplayed and undermined the severity of the pandemic.
In any case, the continued increase in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has largely contributed to the continuous closure of the U.S. Canada land borders. While Canada’s response may not be perfect, the U.S. may be far worse.
The negative aspect of this continued border shutdown is the effect it will have on U.S. tourism and the fact that many immigration programs have declined because of border shutdown. Canada is slowly reacting to this, most recently exempting immediate relatives of Canadian citizens and permanent residents from the restriction.