• The decision to close the U.S.-Canada border was reached mutually
  • All but essential travel is prohibited
  • Trump already had closed the U.S.-Mexico border to all but U.S. citizens, green card holders and foreigners with proper documentation

U.S. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have agreed to close the border between the two countries to all but essential traffic. Trump made the announcement on Twitter.

The decision came as confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide topped 204,000, with at least 8,244 deaths. The U.S. reported more than 6,500 cases with at least 107 deaths. Canada reported nearly 600 cases with at least eight deaths.

The shutdown affects tourists and shoppers, but goods will continue across the border, especially foods and medicines. The Globe and Mail quoted sources as saying both countries want to keep trade going, including auto parts and other pieces of the supply chain.

Canada closed its borders to foreign travelers on Monday. International flights were restricted Wednesday to four airports – Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.

The U.S. early on banned travelers from China and last week barred European travelers, advising Americans to refrain from traveling abroad. On Tuesday, Washington announced all asylum seekers and other foreigners would be turned back at the Mexico border.

Ports of entry were to remain open to U.S. citizens, green card holders and foreigners with legal documentation. All immigration hearings have been postponed until at least April 10.

“The president is 100% focused on protecting the American people from the coronavirus, and all options are on the table,” Heather Swift, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement.

The action comes as both governments weighed economic stimulus packages – the U.S. package unveiled to Senate Republicans Wednesday approaching $1 trillion with direct payments to citizens and billions to hold bankruptcies at bay for various industries, and a $25 billion package for Canadians that could change employment insurance programs and delay tax deadlines. Quebec already has delayed its tax deadline from April 30 to June 1.

"We're looking at giving more flexibility for people to be able to make payments and for businesses to have more liquidity during this time," Trudeau said Tuesday.