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The closure of the U.S.-Canada border has cut off many families from loved ones on the other side, but a park between Washington state and British Columbia has provided some with a rare chance for in-person visits.

AP Domestic

America’s borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed through Oct. 21.

Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf announced the news Friday in a tweet

“We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of #COVID19,” he wrote. “Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through October 21.”

Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair also shared the news on the social media platform, saying, “We will continue to base our decisions on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe.”

The Twitter account for Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, confirmed the news before Wolf on Thursday.

Both borders were closed to all but essential traffic in mid-March after the coronavirus pandemic hit, with government officials announcing multiple extensions as case counts continued to rise, especially in the U.S. The most recent extension, announced in mid-August, was due to expire Sept. 21.

Neither extension comes as much of a surprise: All three countries have seen a rise in cases since August, but Canada lags far behind the U.S. and Mexico in both new infections and deaths.

According to World Health Organization data, Canada reported just over 5,200 new COVID-19 cases on Sept. 14, its highest week since June 1. All told, the country has had nearly  141,000 and 9,200 deaths.

Mexico began August with 44,770 new cases and 4,623 deaths and has had more than 25,000  new cases and between nearly 2,000 and 3,300 deaths per week since then. Its cumulative totals are 684,113 cases and 72,179 deaths. 

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The U.S. had 374,070 new cases and 7,300 deaths the first week of August. Since then, the rate of new cases per week has not been lower than 226,900, and deaths per week have not dipped below 4,600. Its cumulative totals are more than 6.6 million cases and 196,465 deaths.

The land borders are closed but that doesn’t mean U.S. citizens can’t travel by air. Americans seeking sun and surf south of the border are still welcome in Mexican resort areas such as Cancun, Cozumel and Cabo San Lucas, where they are not required to present a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for 14 days. 

Travelers need only undergo temperature screenings and fill out a traveler risk factor questionnaire upon arrival and departure.

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Canada has been stricter about keeping American leisure travelers from crossing the border. 

In late August, a Kentucky man was fined after his hotel in Banff reported him to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for violating the country’s quarantine laws. He faces jail time and a $750,000 fine.

According to the Canadian Border Services Agency, anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident of that country must prove they are traveling for an essential purpose, are only transiting or are an immediate family member of a citizen or permanent resident. They must also have a plan to quarantine for 14 days unless they are exempted.

Americans who are returning to America and Canadians who are returning to Canada also are exempt from the border closure.

Essential cross-border workers such as health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still permitted to cross. 

Despite the announcement that borders would remain closed through late October, President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that the border restrictions between the U.S. and Canada would be cleared “pretty soon,” according to Reuters and Canadian outlet CBC.

Contributing: Morgan Hines, Rasha Ali, Dawn Gilbertson and Curtis Tate, USA TODAY

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