Any hope that the vaccine rollout might signal the lifting of US-Canada border restrictions was just put to rest this week, as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the extension of North American border closures. According to a tweet from the DHS, “We are working closely with Mexico and Canada to keep essential trade & travel open while also protecting our citizens from the virus. DHS is working closely with our counterparts in Mexico and Canada to identify appropriate public health conditions to safely ease restrictions in the future and support U.S. border communities.”
“Until the virus is significantly under more control everywhere around the world,” Trudeau said, according to Reuters. “We’re not going to be releasing the restrictions at the border. We are incredibly lucky that trade in essential goods, in agricultural products, in pharmaceuticals is flowing back and forth as it always has.”
The ban doesn’t impact trade between the US and Canada. Canada sends 75 percent of its exports to the US each month, and the two economies are closely linked.
The closures also come on the heels of new US rules for incoming international travelers, requiring them to show a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed into the country.
It’s unclear when border restrictions will eventually be lifted, but the DHS has said that risk factors like public health conditions, and US Customs and Border Protection staffing levels, will play into the decision. Most importantly, however, the virus’ rate of transmission will have to come down dramatically. Although we’re currently in the worst throes of the pandemic, it is hoped that vaccine proliferation will bring about the end of these restrictions in the coming months.
A version of this article was previously published on December 2, 2020, and was updated on January 14, 2020, with more information.