It started early on Wednesday.
A kilometre of commercial truck drivers in Canada lined up for hours at the Aldergrove-Lynden border, ready to transport their goods.
By 10 a.m. the lineup to get into Washington State extended north past the Aldergrove Duty Free Shop and Highway 13’s 264th Street connector, 3B Avenue.
And yet the Lynden crossing into B.C. was sparsely populated, only a few trucks passed through the port within the next hour.
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The lineup seeking entry into the U.S. came just after the federal government announced closure of the U.S.-Canada border, in both directions, to non-essential traffic on Wednesday morning in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The closure will take effect within “hours or days,” said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who noted that some $2.7 billion worth of goods traverse the border each day.
“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic,” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
“Trade will not be affected.”
Essential travel will be allowed to continue in order to preserve critical supply chains, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, which means shipping trucks will continue to cross the border to deliver food, fuel and medicine.
Workers like health-care professionals who live and work on opposite sides will also be permitted to cross.
Trudeau said during a morning news conference outside his home that he spoke with Trump earlier in the day, and likened the measure to the instructions from public-health officials that people avoid visiting their neighbours – unless doing so is essential.
“Travellers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism,” Trudeau elaborated.
Government officials say exemptions will remain in place to ensure Canadians who are now in the United States are able to return home.
This was seen clearly as passenger vehicles were seen granted to cross over at both the Aldergrove and Lynden entry ports.
“In both our countries, we’re encouraging people to stay home; we’re telling our citizens not to visit their neighbours unless they absolutely have to. This collaborative and reciprocal measure is an extension of that prudent approach,” said Trudeau.
The last time the U.S.-Canada border closed was following Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
– with files from the Canadian Press