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DHS confirms Canada, U.S. extending mutual travel ban into late August

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Sources say Canada and the United States are likely to agree to extend their mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries for another 30 days. Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke

WASHINGTON — 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.

"Based on the success of the existing restrictions and close collaboration with Mexico and Canada, (the Department of Homeland Security) will continue to limit non-essential travel at our land ports of entry with Canada and Mexico until Aug. 20," Wolf tweeted.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press