OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada will maintain restrictions on non-essential travel with the United States until the coronavirus outbreak in both nations is much less serious, a senior government official said on Friday.
The comments by Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair suggest that the ban on non-essential travel could stay for months to come, given spiking cases of COVID-19.
The measures, first imposed in March, are due to expire on Oct 21. They do not affect trade.
Blair told reporters that Canada would keep the restrictions in place “until the conditions on both sides of the border … change very substantively, until we can be assured based on the advice we receive from our public health officials” that the measures could be lifted safely.
The United States on Friday reported 7,260,465 cases of the new coronavirus, up 47,046 from the previous count. A second wave is sweeping Canada, where health officials are reporting almost 2,000 new cases a day compared to just 300 in July.
The U.S. embassy in Ottawa was not immediately available for comment.
Canadian officials earlier announced they would ease some restrictions next Thursday to allow for more family reunifications, and plans to allow some new international students to attend learning institutions.
When the measures were first introduced they prompted protests from people separated from family members.
“We recognize that travel restrictions should not keep loved ones apart. In these challenging times, we know those challenges are best met with the strength and support of those we love by our side,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told reporters.
As of Oct. 8, Canada will allow the entry of certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, including those in an exclusive dating relationship of at least one year.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer, writing by David Ljunggren, Editing by Franklin Paul and Richard Chang)