More than eight in 10 Canadians say the Canada-U.S. border should remain closed to non-essential travellers for the foreseeable future, according to a new Nanos Research survey.
Most travel across the border was halted on March 21 for a 30-day period in an effort to stem the transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in June that Canada and the United States will continue to limit non-essential travel between the two countries until at least July 21. The U.S. has for months failed to slow the spread of COVID-19, which has so far killed about 130,000 Americans.
The closing of the border does not affect essential travel, such as truck and rail traffic carrying food and goods essential to supply chains, as well as travel to get to work. Flights between both countries continue. But the closing has forced many couples and family members apart for months.
Mr. Trudeau announced last month that immediate family members who have been separated by the closing would finally be able to reunite, but those entering Canada are required to quarantine for 14 days.
Two Americans have been charged and face a fine of $1,000 for failing to quarantine for two weeks after arriving in this country.
A 66-year-old man and a 65-year-old woman from Minnesota entered Canada on June 24 at the border connecting International Falls, Minn., and Fort Frances, Ont. The pair were told to drive directly to their destination and to quarantine for 14 days, but Ontario Provincial Police said they were spotted making stops in Fort Frances.
Police said they were charged with failure to comply with an order prohibiting entry into Canada.
The Nanos survey conducted for The Globe and Mail asked respondents if, going forward, they believe that the border should reopen for non-essential travellers immediately, for those living in areas where infection rates in Canada and the U.S. are low, or if it should remain closed for the foreseeable future.
Eighty-one per cent said the border should stay closed, while 14 per cent said they believe it should open now but only in areas where infection rates are low and 3 per cent said it should open immediately. Two per cent responded that they are unsure.
The survey suggests that there is strong support across regions and age groups for keeping the border closed.
“The response is actually quite surprising considering we are a border country that relies on the United States for our livelihood … [it] suggests that Canadians have a very high level of anxiety about what’s happening in the pandemic in the United States,” Pollster Nik Nanos said.
Mr. Nanos said Canadians see the potential worsening of the pandemic in the U.S. and that the situation south of the border needs to improve before they will feel comfortable opening the border.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded more than 52,000 new cases on Sunday, bringing the country’s total to about 2.8 million. The CDC reported 271 new deaths.
Meanwhile, in Canada, there were 226 new coronavirus cases reported Sunday, and 105,317 cases in total. Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said in her daily update that 11 more people died from the virus, and that in total 8,674 people have died from the pandemic in Canada.
Conservative public-safety critic Pierre Paul-Hus said his party continues to support limiting travel between the two countries until the pandemic is under control on both sides of the border.
“The Trudeau government must clearly tell Canadians what benchmarks will guide lifting border and travel restrictions when the time comes, and how they plan to manage the reopening of the border while ensuring the health and safety of Canadians,” Mr. Paul-Hus said.
The survey of 1,049 Canadians adults was conducted between June 28 and July 2, 2020 as part of an omnibus hybrid phone and online survey. The margin of error for this survey is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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