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The Canadian border may stay closed a lot longer than expected

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The US - Canadian border is closed to non-essential travel for at least a couple more weeks and one expert suggests it could be closed for at least another year.

Colin Furness is an infection control epidemiologist from the university of Toronto. He said there is too great a disparity between the growing COVID outbreak in the Us and the better managed cases in Canada.

“Right now we’ve only got a couple hundred cases a day in the entire country, and of course we’re right up against the biggest covid outbreak on the planet,” Colin said. On July 8th the reported new cases in Canada was around 300, the United States had around 60,000 new cases.

Colin said especially with most of Canada's population within a hundred miles of the border, allowing the US outbreak to freely transmit across the border could lead to Canada's mostly under control outbreak having another surge.

There are three scenarios where Colin said he could see the border re-opening: “Maybe we discover an antiviral that converts covid from being deadly into being a nuisance. Another one would be the one I don’t want to happen: enough infection in the united states that you achieve herd immunity and it dies out on its own, or we end up with a vaccine and that’s what I really want to happen.”

Colin explained that the herd immunity option is one which would likely take a year. He said until the US outbreak is under control it is unlikely the border will open. He explained restricting travel is a utilitarian option, but for the Canadian government it is one that, so far, they seem willing to take to keep their citizens safe.

The July 21st date for re-opening is less than 2 weeks away, Colin said it will probably get pushed back again. He said so far it has been applied gently and cauciously only extending weeks at a time. He said the gentle approach is probably the right one.

"Treading softly is the best approach almost all the time, and that’s the Canadian way, so I think we’re being as gentle as we can, we’re not saying “we don’t want you guys, we’re scared of you guys, that’s not the message we want to convey. it’s really just a question of being cautious and trying to protect what we have.” explained Colin.

He said it is a difficult situation on either side, and that Canadians like him feel the pain, especially those with family and loved ones on the other side. He said it may be tough, but in order to keep people safe the border may keep the crossings to a minimum for the forseeable future.