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Canada, US expected to close border to all but essential travelers: reports

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Ottawa (AFP)

Canada and the United States on Wednesday are expected to announce the closure of their common border to non-essential travelers, several Canadian media reported.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should make an announcement during the day on the issue, Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said, without providing specifics.

"What the prime minister is going to announce will reassure people," he said in an interview Wednesday morning with public broadcaster Radio-Canada.

He promised new measures "proposed by both sides," noting that hundreds of thousands of people cross the border every day.

On Monday, Trudeau announced that Canada was closing its borders to foreign travelers with the notable exception of Americans -- a position that drew criticism in Canada as the coronavirus epidemic intensified in the United States.

According to Canadian media, Ottawa and Washington were finalizing an agreement that would bar tourists and shoppers from crossing the border, while still allowing the free movement of goods between the two countries.

The agreement would limit the entry to Canada of Americans considered essential, like truck drivers and people employed in other vital sectors of the economy, according to the reports.

The government had stressed on Monday that Americans were being exempted from the border restrictions because of the high level of integration of the US and Canadian economies.

As of Tuesday evening, Canada had nearly 600 confirmed coronavirus cases and eight deaths from the disease, while the US death toll has surpassed 100 with nearly 6,500 confirmed cases.

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