Coronavirus: U.S. and Canada Close Border to Non-Essential Traffic, Trudeau Unveils Stimulus

Date: 2020-03-18 15:46:48

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President Donald Trump said the U.S. and Canada agreed to close the border between the two countries to non-essential traffic as coronavirus spreads.

“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic,” Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday. “Trade will not be affected.”

The indefinite ban — blocking tourism between the two countries — will have wide exemptions for business and commerce, according to officials familiar with the matter.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week urged Canadians abroad to return home, and restricted flights from places other than the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean.

The border closing comes as the number of coronavirus cases has been rising in both countries. In the U.S., more than 6,500 people tested positive for the virus, and in Canada there were 598 people with positive tests, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Trump has also placed travel restrictions on European countries in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The president has said travel restrictions within the U.S. are also possible.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to roll out a fiscal package worth 3% of Canada’s economy as it grapples with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The package will be worth a combined C$82 billion ($56.7 billion), Trudeau said Wednesday in Ottawa. This includes C$27 billion in direct support for individuals and companies and C$55 billion in temporary tax deferrals for both households and businesses.

The measures represent a significant escalation in the stimulus package, and appeared to change in a matter of a few hours. Late Tuesday night, government officials were touting a plan that would provide direct stimulus of 1% of the nation’s economy.

The outlook, however, seems to be deteriorating by the hour. The price of Canadian heavy crude slumped Wednesday below $10 a barrel for the first time after oil-sands producers were forced to delay maintenance, pushing more oil into the market at the worst possible time.

“Right now we are focused on making sure that people who are not getting an income or revenue because of this Covid-19 challenge have the money to be able to pay for groceries, pay their rent, and support their families through this difficult time,” Trudeau said.

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