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US increasingly shut off from the world with Canadian, Mexican borders closed to all but essential traffic

March 20, 2020
3 min read
US increasingly shut off from the world with Canadian, Mexican borders closed to all but essential traffic
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The United States and Mexico formally terminated all nonessential travel across the U.S.-Mexico border Friday, March 20, in response to fears over the growing coronavirus pandemic. The measure applies to both land and air travel between the two countries, a representative from the Mexican embassy told TPG.

The travel restriction expands upon a number of recent efforts to contain the coronavirus infection rate among the U.S. population, which has seen a spike in recent cases over the past few days. Canada implemented a similar border restriction with the United States on March 18, limiting travel between the two countries to situations of absolute necessity only. President Trump began banning all foreign travelers arriving from Europe's Schengen Area countries beginning March 14, which was extended to include the United Kingdom and Ireland on March 16.

With the Canadian and Mexican borders largely closed, most ports shut down and limited international flights, the U.S. is now almost shut off from the world.

Related: What is the Schengen area, and what European countries does it include?

And while travelers holding U.S. passports or residency were not affected by the travel ban, the U.S. State Department issued an unprecedented global Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory for international travel on March 19, saying, “The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19."

As airlines worldwide have hastily shut down or curtailed operations in an effort to minimize their losses, travelers have found themselves stranded around the world due to a shortage of flights, or on ships unable to dock

Related: These are the worldwide travel advisories for March 2020

Meanwhile, a number of states and cities across the United States have implemented regional lockdown measures of their own. Las Vegas has shut down all nonessential businesses such as casinos, hotels and resorts for 30 days; New York and California have both implemented strict state-wide restrictions on nonessential interaction; Austin canceled film, tech and music festival SXSW just one week before its start date while several major Texas cities closed bars and restaurants for dine-in service.