US-Canada border closure extended to Aug. 21

A view of trucks crossing the U.S.-Canada border. The border's closure for non-essential travel has been extended to Aug. 21

The U.S.-Canada border will remain closed for nonessential travel until Aug. 21 after both governments agreed to extend the restriction by 30 days to curb the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.

“We’re going to keep working closely with our American neighbors to keep people safe on both sides of the border,” Trudeau said during an afternoon news conference.

The extension of the border closure was widely expected. It means truck drivers will soon enter their fifth month of crossing the border largely free of passenger traffic.

The U.S. and Canada closed the border to nonessential travel in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure exempts trucks moving freight. 

Cross-border freight recovery continues during closure

The border closure itself hasn’t directly impacted cross-border freight. But the shutdowns of large parts of the economies in both countries have impacted cross-border truck traffic and freight volumes.

In an encouraging sign for cross-border freight, U.S.-to-Canada truck traffic reached its pre-COVID-19 pandemic seasonal norm during the first week of July. It reflects a broader recovery in both directions, U.S. and Canadian government data show. 

But rolling back of lockdowns in parts of the U.S. could hurt cross-border freight volumes.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump discussed the border during a call on Monday. Trudeau reportedly expressed concerns about the surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States.

A recent poll by Nanos Research found that more than 80% of Canadians support keeping the border closed.

Canadians’ support of the closure came as new COVID-19 cases steadily decline in the country. 

Nevertheless, 29 members of Congress recently wrote a letter calling for the Canadian government to consider re-opening the border.

While goods largely continue to move freely between the countries under the ban via truck, the border closure has disrupted some parts of the supply chain. Some Canadian businesses, especially those near the U.S., have faced problems bringing small shipments across the border themselves.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Nate Tabak.

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