Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
Further to the announcement on March 18, 2020, the U.S.-Canada Joint Initiative: Temporary Restriction of Travelers Crossing the U.S.-Canada Border directive has been released. In summary, the border will be closed for non-essential travel commencing March 21, 2020 and will continue for at least 30 days.
“Non-essential” is not defined in extensive detail. Based on existing practice, it will be at the discretion of each Canada Border Service Agency officer, on a case by case basis, to determine whether the purpose of each individual’s entry to Canada qualifies as “essential services.” Feedback from the land borders in the last few days, where some officers are already applying the restrictions, is that a very high threshold is being used for “essential services.”
Any Canadian or American entering Canada from abroad, including the U.S. land border, will still be subject to a 14-day self-isolation period. The only exception to the self-isolation period are those individuals involved in the transportation of essential goods or people, which means pilots/crew and truckers. As such, daily or weekly commuting between the countries for essential services is not practical.
U.S.-Canada Joint Initiative: Temporary Restriction of Travelers Crossing the U.S.-Canada Border for Non-Essential Purposes
March 20, 2020
Prime Minister’s Office
The U.S.-Canada land border serves as an economic engine that supports over $2.4 billion dollars in daily trade. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States and Canada are temporarily restricting all non-essential travel across its borders. In each of our countries, we are encouraging people to exercise caution by avoiding unnecessary contact with others. This collaborative and reciprocal measure is an extension of that prudent approach.
“Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.
The United States and Canada recognize it is critical we preserve supply chains between both countries. These supply chains ensure that food, fuel, and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border. Supply chains, including trucking, will not be impacted by this new measure. Americans and Canadians also cross the land border every day to do essential work or for other urgent or essential reasons, and that travel will not be impacted.
This decision will be implemented on March 21, 2020, at which time the U.S. and Canada will temporarily restrict all non-essential travel across the U.S.-Canada land border. The measure will be in place for 30 days, at which point it will be reviewed by both parties.