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The closure of the border to non-essential travel between the United States and Canada due to COVID-19 was extended for a 13th time Tuesday morning — only hours before it was set to expire — according to a tweet from a Canadian official.
The border closure is now set to last until at least May 21 — 14 months after the border between the two countries first closed in an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus during the pandemic.
“We will continue to base our decision of the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe from #COVID19,” Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair tweeted Tuesday, April 21.
The U.S. confirmed the the closure, as well as the extension of the the country’s southern border with Mexico, in a tweet from Homeland Security.
“To deter the spread of #COVID19 and protect our citizens, the United States is continuing restrictions on non-essential travel at our land borders through May 21, while maintaining the flow of essential trade and travel as we have for over a year,” Homeland Security’s tweet read.
“We are guided by science and public health data and engaged in discussions with Canada and Mexico about easing restrictions as health conditions improve.”
The continuance of the border closure is no surprise, especially as Canada and parts of the U.S. are battling the next wave of the disease.
Earlier this month, he Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even issued a warning to U.S. travelers to avoid Canada for now, even if they are fully vaccinated.
The U.S. and Canada first agreed to close the border in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 during the opening stages of the pandemic in mid-March 2020. The closure began March 21 has since been extended on month-by-month basis 13 times now.
It was last extended on March 18 and was set to expire Wednesday, April 21 before Tuesday’s announcement.
Amtrak Cascades will continue bus service between Seattle and Bellingham until the U.S.-Canadian border reopens and rail service between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., can resume, according to an Amtrak release Tuesday.
The border closure extension also means that U.S. recreational boaters should remember that Canadian and some tribal marinas remain closed, according to a release from the U.S. Coast Guard 13th District Pacific Northwest.
“The order remains in effect despite the reopening of Washington state boat ramps and recreational fishing, which is important when planning recreational fishing and boating voyages this season,” the release stated.
COVID numbers update
As of Tuesday, the United States continues to have the highest number of COVID cases in the world with more than 31.7 million confirmed cases and 568,000 related deaths, according to the John Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard. Canada, meanwhile, was 22nd overall with more than 1.1 million cases and 23,000 related deaths.
The U.S. is the third-most populated country in the world with more than 331 million residents, according to worldometers.info, while Canada is No. 39 with more than 37 million residents.
According to the British Columbia COVID-19 dashboard on Monday, April 19, the province has seen 120,040 total cases during the pandemic and 1,538 confirmed deaths — an increase of 30,613 cases and 127 deaths since the last border extension was announced March 18. With a population of approximately 5.1 million, British Columbia has seen an infection rate of 600.3 cases and 2.5 deaths per 100,000 residents since March 18.
The Washington State Department of Health, meanwhile, reported 359,810 confirmed cases and 5,394 related deaths on Monday — an increase of 28,701 cases and 238 deaths since March 18. With a population of approximately 7.5 million, the state has averaged 382.7 cases and 3.2 deaths per 100,000 residents since March 18.
Washington state reports administering 4,669,463 vaccine doses, or approximately 0.62 doses per resident, while British Columbia reports administering 1,380,160 doses, or approximately 0.27 per resident.