As the Canada-U.S. border reopening date draws near, Kingston Mayor Brian Paterson is adding his name to the list of people calling for it to remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think certainly right now there’s a big difference in the risk, in transmission, between Canada and the U.S.,” said Paterson in an interview with CTV News Ottawa.
Since March, Canada and the United States have agreed to temporarily close the border to non-essential travel while keeping it open for commercial traffic. The closure is set to last until at least July 21.
Under that rule, non-essential travel across the border is not permitted, and all Canadians returning to Canada must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine as per the Quarantine Act.
Earlier this week, Premier Doug Ford called on the Federal Government to continue to keep the border closed to non-essential travel.
On Thursday, Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health at Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health, supported the move.
Moore says while there are many economic and social advantages of re-opening the border, it should remain closed to protect Canadians.
“Re-opening the border too soon will almost certainly increase the risk of COVID-19 cases in Canada, particularly given the previous rates of tourism between the two countries,” said Moore in a statement.
On Saturday, Paterson said he had spoken to mayors across eastern Ontario and says he feels it’s “unanimous.”
“Given the current conditions right now, I don’t think there’s anyone that I know of that’s pushing for the border to reopen,” he explained.
On Saturday, Ontario health officials announced 130 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 36,594.
Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington currently has 21 active cases, following a nail salon outbreak that began in June.
Ottawa Public Health reported 16 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, but no new deaths for a 15th consecutive day. There are a total of 2,146 laboratory-confirmed cases in Ottawa.
Meanwhile, the U.S. recorded nearly 60,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, including a near-record 11,433 in Florida alone. There have now been three million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and more than 133,000 deaths.
On Friday, Premier Ford said he hoped Federal Government officials will continue to be “very cautious” when it comes to reopening borders.
“As long as the goods and products are flowing which they have been (we should keep it closed). I love our American neighbours but not right now,” Ford said. “Come and visit us when things cool down especially south of the border.”
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