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Thousands of tourists, shoppers still trying to enter Canada despite COVID-19 travel ban
VICTORIA -- Canadian border agents have turned away more than 7,500 foreigners – mostly Americans – trying to visit Canada for non-essential purposes, including sightseeing, shopping and recreation, since pandemic restrictions on travel were imposed.
The latest data available from the Canada Border Services Agency reveals that 7,639 foreign nationals were denied entry to Canada under the discretionary travel ban between March 22 and June 16.
Americans accounted for 87 per cent of those denied entry, with 6,615 U.S. citizens being sent home by Canadian border agents. The remaining 1,024 people denied entry were citizens of other countries not specified by the CBSA.
Many of those denied entry to Canada during the COVID-19 border closure were American tourists or sightseers, with 1,449 meeting that designation by the CBSA.
Likewise, the border agency says it turned away 827 Americans trying to visit Canada for recreational purposes and 418 Americans coming to Canada for non-essential shopping.
The remaining 3,918 Americans turned away by Canadian border guards were denied entry for "other" kinds of discretionary visits, according to the CBSA.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an agreement with the United States to keep the Canada-U.S. border closed to all non-essential travel until at least July 21.
Certain border-crossers are exempt from the ban, including temporary foreign workers, health-care workers who live and work on opposite sides of the divide, and those who are visiting immediate family in Canada for non-discretionary reasons.
Most of the Americans denied entry to Canada under the discretionary travel ban – 6,115 in total – arrived at the border via land, rail or marine entry points. Meanwhile, 500 would-be border-crossers were turned away at trans-border air terminals, according to the CBSA.
Of the 1,024 non-American travellers the CBSA turned away, 226 were coming to Canada for tourism or sightseeing, 100 for recreation and 62 for non-essential shopping, according to the border agency.
The remaining 636 were classified as visiting for "other" reasons.
Similarly, the majority of those non-U.S. citizens – 833 people – were turned away at land, rail or marine terminals, while 191 attempted to enter Canada by air, according to the CBSA.
Last month, Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said federal health officials continue to monitor the coronavirus outbreak in the United States to determine when border restrictions should be lifted.