Around 1,300 national exemptions to COVID-19 border restrictions given out

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Immigration officials say the federal government granted 1,300 national interest exemptions during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow people into Canada who don't qualify under current border restrictions.

The Canadian border has been closed since March to all but a specific list of people, albeit one that has grown longer as the pandemic has continued.

Among those allowed in are essential workers and certain family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Broadly, those whose travel is considered optional or discretionary aren't allowed in, but exemptions can be made if certain ministers sign off on the plan.

Among those who have benefited: pro hockey and baseball players, though basketball players were recently denied.

The exemption has also been used to admit high-profile U.S. executives, which has prompted heated debate over who, exactly, gets to access the exemptions and why.

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