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US asks its citizens to stay away from Toronto during G20 meet

world Updated: Jun 18, 2010 11:17 IST

The protests expected at the G-20 summit could quickly turn violent, so it's best to stay away from them — in fact, avoid the Toronto downtown core altogether, the US has warned its citizens.

The US State Department issued a travel alert for Americans who live in Toronto or plan to visit the city before or during the June 26-27 summit of world leaders.

"Previous G-20 summits have drawn large numbers of protesters and activists, and a number of groups have announced plans to demonstrate throughout downtown Toronto," the advisory said.

"Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable. You should avoid them if at all possible," it said.

Because of security concerns and significant travel disruptions in and around the security perimeter, the state department is suggesting people to avoid the area.

"US citizens should avoid travelling in or through downtown Toronto during the summit, if possible."

Small businesses near the summit site will already be taking a hit, Toronto New Democrat MP Olivia Chow said, adding that this advisory won't help matters.

"This is the height of the tourism season and losing these Americans is going to be a big problem," she said.

"Certainly the immediate core around where the summit's taking place is going to be a different story but this is a big city and we've closed streets before."

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said that he's not concerned about the travel alert.

"The only issue I'd be concerned about if I was a tourist is hotel space," McGuinty said.

Protesters have said they're planning a massive but peaceful rally on June 26.

Washington said the travel alert expires on June 28.

The travel alert does not extend to the picturesque cottage country town of Huntsville, Ontario, which is hosting the G8 summit from June 25-26.

"Because of limited hotel space and Huntsville's location three hours away from Toronto, the department does not expect significant protest activity in the Huntsville area," the alert said.