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UPDATED: Canada closes border; essential commercial traffic excluded

canada border-2

UPDATE, MARCH 18: Canadian officials have revised the ban to exclude all “non-essential” traffic.

Fresh produce and other commercial trade shipments are excluded from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s border closure plan.

The closure comes just days after the Canadian parliament voted to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and is in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19.

The Canadian border is now closed to “all foreign nationals” except Americans. All travelers, including Canadian citizens, who exhibit symptoms also will be denied access to Canada.

Canadian Produce Marketing Association president Ron Lemaire said the exceptions for trade are vital.

“We are fully supportive of all measures the Government of Canada is undertaking to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in Canada and across the world,” Lemaire said. “We are also extremely pleased to hear that trade and commerce will be an exception to the border closure, as our relationship with the United States, being our primary trading partner, is essential to the produce industry. We know that Canadians and Americans value the health benefits of a diet with high fruit and vegetable consumption and our sector will continue to work, as we always do, to be able to offer the safest and healthiest produce to consumers.”

Rumors that Mexico is considering a similar measure, barring U.S. citizens from entry, also are floating around.

According to the Texas International Produce Association and Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, commercial border crossings with Mexico are business as usual.

On Friday, TIPA sent an advisory to members saying:

“CPB said they are continuing to process cargo shipments as usual and staff levels have not been negatively impacted at ports-of-entry. The agency is assembling contingency plans in the event of a reduced workforce. Further, they do not consider cargo a pathway for transmission of the coronavirus. The agency is focused on maintaining the flow of commerce and will constantly be reviewing operations as the situation evolves.”

Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services