Canada closing border to most non-residents, exempts U.S. citizens

Canada will close its border to most non-residents as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the country and the world, Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauTrump says Prince Harry, Meghan Markle must pay for their own security if they move to US Trudeau calls for keeping US-Canada border demilitarized Hockey equipment company making face shields for medical professionals MORE announced Monday.

Trudeau declared that only Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be permitted to enter the country, with exemptions being granted for air crews, diplomats, immediate family members of citizens and, “at this time,” U.S. citizens.

“As the virus continues its spread, we’ve decided to take increasingly aggressive steps to keep you and your family safe,” he said during a press conference.

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When asked why U.S. citizens were still being allowed across Canada's border, Trudeau said the two countries were "collaborating very closely," adding that "the level of integration of our two countries is quite particular."

"We recognize that the level of integration of our two economies and the coordination that we've had over the past while puts the U.S. in a separate category from the rest of the world," he said.

The prime minister also said air operators will be “formally mandated” to stop travelers who display symptoms of COVID-19 from boarding a plane bound for Canada. To ensure this, the operators will conduct  a “basic health assessment” of every passenger based on guidance from public health officials. 

He also assured Canadians that are abroad that the government will attempt to bring asymptomatic people home and provide financial assistance to help with the costs of returning or to cover basic needs while stuck abroad. 

Trudeau also said four Canadian airports will be designated to receive international flights. He said the restrictions will not affect commerce or trade. 

“I know that these measures are far-reaching. They are exceptional circumstances calling for exceptional measures,” he said. 

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“We can still slow the spread of this virus, but as Dr. Tam has said that window is closing,” he added, referencing Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Theresa Tam.

The prime minister ensured that the government’s decisions are and have been “based on the latest available science and advice from our world class health professionals” to “help save lives.”

He acknowledged that the “economic impact” of the virus is “shifting hourly” and announced an additional $10 billion to back Canadian businesses. 

Trudeau encouraged Canadians to stay at home and participate in so-called social distancing to limit the spread of the virus.

The prime minister spoke outside his home in Ottawa as he is in self-quarantine after his wife tested positive for the virus.