Mexico City - The U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada will remain closed to nonessential travel for at least another month, the U.S. Homeland Security Department said Monday. The extension comes as the United States remains one of the worst-affected countries in the world, and is reporting the second-highest number of new coronavirus cases daily
"To continue to limit the spread of COVID, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada will extend the restrictions on non-essential travel through Nov. 21. We are working closely with Mexico and Canada to identify safe criteria to ease the restrictions in the future and support our border communities," said U.S. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Twitter.
Mexico's foreign ministry announced that the border travel restrictions will remain in place and unchanged until November 21 via a series of tweets last Friday.
This is the seventh time the measures, which apply to non-essential land traffic to and from the U.S. and Mexico, have been extended since the partial closure was first announced on March 21 as a measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The United States is currently the center of the coronavirus pandemic, while Mexico ranks tenth worldwide in the number of cases reported.
The land border restrictions do not affect trade or essential travel between the US and Mexico, including health care and workers living and working on opposite sides of the border. "Non-essential travel" includes trips that are considered tourist or recreational in nature. So commercial traffic continues to flow between the two countries, but merchants on both sides of the border are hurting.
While tourists haven't been permitted to drive into Mexico since March 21, there have been no restrictions on flying into the country since the early days of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Canada's Public Safety Minister Bill Blair also disclosed via Twitter the latest one-month extension of the policy put in place in March to control the spread of COVID-19.
In an interview Monday with a Canadian radio station, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that the country's southern neighbor does not have the virus under control.
"We'd love to have the border open... but we can't do that unless we're comfortable that Canadians are being kept safe," Trudeau said. "Right now, the situation in the United States continues to be of concern," he added.
Last month, on the day the border restrictions were extended for the sixth time, U.S. President Donald Trump said it would open pretty soon because Canada wanted the restrictions lifted. But Canada's government has made it clear it does not want the restrictions removed until COVID-19 is under control in both countries.
The restrictions are particularly painful for U.S. and Canadian towns along the border that are tightly intertwined. Statistics Canada last month reported U.S. visits to Canada by automobile had plummeted by more than 95% in August compared with August 2019.