U-S officials confirm border will remain closed

BORDER

As expected, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says Canada and the United States have agreed to extend their mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries until Aug. 20.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf confirmed the news in a tweet earlier today.

The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to so-called ``discretionary'' travel like vacations and shopping trips since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the continent in mid-March, an agreement that had been set to expire July 21.

The extension comes with COVID-19 resurgent across the U.S. _ cases are on the rise in all 50 states, and southern states like Florida, Arizona and California are facing a fresh crisis with overcrowded hospital wards, refrigerated truck trailers serving as makeshift morgues and another shortage of personal protective medical gear.

The escalating emergency has also exposed a deep divide between Canadians dead-set against reopening the border and U.S. lawmakers in northern border states who continue to press both countries for a blueprint for doing exactly that.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the extent of the pandemic in the U.S. a ``constantly evolving'' situation, but won't say whether officials have considered extending the border restrictions beyond the standard 30-day window.