Reopening US border could take "significant" period of time: BC health minister

May 21 2020, 3:02 pm

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada and the US agreed to extend the border closure by another 30 days, and BC’s minister of health says it could be a “significant amount of time” before that changes.

Speaking on the extension earlier this week, Health Minister Adrian Dix said he was pleased with the decision negotiated by the federal government, which oversees matters regarding international borders.

And when it comes to travel across provinces, Dix acknowledged that is being monitored closely by provincial officials.

“Alberta is enacting many of the measures we are. They are working with us closely every day to ensure and fight the spread of COVID-19 in our country and in our provinces,” he said.

“I think it’s fair to say that’s not the case in the United States. We are very hopeful, of course, that everyone in the United States to the maximum degree stays safe from this and recovers from this as quickly as possible, but the situation is much less clear there.”

Dix added he is not convinced there “is much chance” the situation in the US will change “sufficiently” in the next month to alter his decision about if the border should be reopening.

“The short answer is that we support the federal action… We think it’s the right thing to do, we think it’s going to most certainly be needed after one month for now and that it’s going to be a significant period of time.”

In a press conference on Wednesday, Premier John Horgan recognized that the border closure has been difficult for British Columbians who have loved ones in Washington State, and there has been some talk about how to accommodate those individuals in the future.

“Dr. Henry and I and Minister Dix talked about how we can relieve some of the stress, because there are many people who do have family connections into Washington State and they do want to go on to visit their family and visit their friends,” he said.

“As the summer goes by, as we continue to see positive outcomes with respect to caseloads, hospitalizations, and all of the issues Dr. Henry raises on a daily basis, we’ll be in a better position to revisit this.”

Horgan says that it may seem “incongruous” to have the ability to go to Quebec, where the caseloads and death counts are high and not be able to travel to Washington State.

“But that’s where we are at today,” he said. “Dr. Henry sees of this and she’ll have more to say on it in the weeks ahead.”