Canada Tightens Border But Exempts Truckers as “Essential Workers”
Toronto, ON – On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada was restricting the entry of all non-Canadian citizens or permanent residents in response to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.
Speaking at a press conference outside his home, the Prime Minister touted Canada’s response to the outbreak, stating the country would take “increasingly aggressive steps” to keep Canadians safe.
“First, we will be denying entry to Canada to people who are not Canadian citizens or permeant residents,” the Prime Minister stated in both French and English. “This measure will carve out some designated exceptions including for air crews, diplomats, immediate family members for Canadian citizens, and – at this time – U.S. citizens,” he continued.
Mr. Trudeau emphasized the new travel restrictions will not apply to commerce or trade.
“We will continue to ensure the supply of important goods to Canada,” the Prime Minister said.
The border ban is set to begin Tuesday, March 17.
Cross-Border Truckers Deemed “Essential Workers”
Speaking at a separate press conference on Monday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau echoed certain kinds of workers – such as truck drivers, train and air crews and others whose professions require cross-border travel to the U.S. in order to maintain trade and deliver essential products to Canadians – will be exempted from Trudeau’s order.
Cross-border truckers who display no coronavirus symptoms will also not be required to comply with a 14-day self-isolation order, Garneau said.
Canadians returning from other countries are currently being required to self-isolate for 14 days upon return.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair reinforced the importance of exempting essential transportation workers from the protocol if they are asymptomatic. “We believe the risk of essential workers crossing the border can be managed effectively,” he said. “For the purposes of not just their own employment but also to keep Canada moving, essential workers need to be able to keep moving across the border.”
Following the announcement, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) commended the Federal Government’s declaration that commercial truck drivers are “essential workers.”
In a statement to Transportation Nation Network (TNN), CTA president Stephen Laskowski said the trucking industry “supports the Government of Canada and all provinces in every way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
Laskowski applauded Mr. Trudeau for recognizing “truck drivers are indispensable workers who are critical in the fight against stemming the spread of the disease and getting essential supplies to Canadians who need them.”
He added, “Each and every time they’ve been needed, Canada’s truck drivers have always answered the call in an emergency. These are unprecedented times for Canadians. I have no doubt that, as front-line essential workers, our nation’s truck drivers will do what is required to keep Canada moving and keep Canadians safe.”
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Meanwhile, for truckers entering the U.S., U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says it will be business as usual, unless a U.S-bound driver has returned from a “hot spot” country within the last 14 days.
If a truck driver returning from one of the countries listed in President Trump’s recent Executive Order attempts to cross a border within 14 days, they will be denied entry into the U.S.
CBP says it is prioritizing the efficient movement of truck drivers and goods as much as possible during these uncertain times.
Additionally, Canada’s border ban will not restrict entry for U.S. citizens traveling into the country for business and trade purposes.
As for Mr. Trudeau, he is currently in a 14-day period of self-isolation.
His wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, precipitating Mr. Trudeau’s decision to self-isolate.
Photo courtesy of CTA