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U.S., Canada make it official: Cross-border travel to remain restricted

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that Canada and the United States have agreed to extend their mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries until Aug. 20.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf confirmed the news in a tweet Thursday.

"Based on the success of the existing restrictions and close collaboration with Mexico and Canada, @DHSgovwill continue to limit non-essential travel at our land ports of entry with Canada and Mexico until Aug 20," Wolf said. "Close collaboration with our neighbors has allowed us to respond to #COVID19 in a North American approach and slow the travel-related spread of the virus."

"We're going to keep working closely with our American neighbors to keep people safe on both sides of the border," said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The U.S.-Canada border has been closed to so-called "discretionary" travel like vacations and shopping trips since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the continent in mid-March. The agreement had been set to expire July 21.

The extension comes with COVID-19 resurgent across the U.S.  Cases are on the rise in all 50 states and states like Florida, Arizona and California are facing a fresh crisis with overcrowded hospital wards, refrigerated truck trailers serving as makeshift morgues and another shortage of personal protective medical gear.

The escalating emergency has also exposed a deep divide between Canadians dead-set against reopening the border and U.S. lawmakers in northern border states who continue to press both countries for a blueprint for doing exactly that. It also brought up the issue of the Toronto Blue Jays corssing the border to play Major League Baseball games against U.S. teams.

Mark Wozniak, WBFO's local All Things Considered host, has been at WBFO since mid-1978.
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