U.S. to lift Canada, Mexico land border restrictions in November

U.S. to lift Canada, Mexico land border restrictions in November

U.S. is set to reopen land borders with Canada and Mexico for vaccinated visitors in early November

  • The US is set to reopen its land borders with Canada and Mexico in November to travelers who are fully vaccinated — a move nearly 20 months in the making
  • Senior White House officials said details of the new rules will be announced on Wednesday, including what kind of vaccines will be accepted
  • Under the new rules, White House officials said, non-essential travelers will be asked about their vaccination status at land border crossings
  • Unlike air travel, no testing will be required to enter the U.S. prior to entry by land or sea, provided the travelers meet the vaccination requirement
  • Starting in early January, the rules will also be applied to essential travelers like truckers and ferry captains
  • Officials said the phased approach will allow those workers to get vaccinated if they have not already done so. 
  • Only those who travelers who are fully vaccinated will be allowed through

The United States will lift restrictions at its land borders with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals in early November, ending historic curbs on non-essential travelers in place since March 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic, two U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

The rules, which will be formally announced by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday, will cover land borders and ferry crossings.  

The reopening of US borders with both of its neighboring countries comes nearly 20 months after they closed although a specific date has not yet been specified.

On September 20, the White House announced the United States would also lift travel restrictions in November on air travelers from 33 countries including the UK, most of Europe, China, India and Brazil, who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 

The US will open land and sea borders to vaccinated travelers coming from and going to Canada in ‘early November’, a senior White House official said on October 12

The southern border between the US and Mexico will also reopen early November, allowing more commercial exchanges and people to travel between both countries. Pictured: A Mexican soldier patrols the international border bridge that connects Del Rio, Texas, and Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, after its partial reopening September 25

The move is similar but not identical to planned requirements announced last month for international air travelers, the officials said in a call with reporters.

Lawmakers from U.S. border states praised the move to lift the unprecedented restrictions which harmed the economies of local communities and prevented visits to friends and families.

‘Since the beginning of the pandemic, members of our shared cross-border community have felt the pain and economic hardship of the land border closures. That pain is about to end,’ Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

Unvaccinated visitors will still be barred from entering the United States from Canada or Mexico at land borders.

The southern U.S. border has been under the spotlight for weeks as a steady influx of migrants from Central America and Haiti seeking refuge from violence and poor conditions in their home countries have overwhelmed border patrol agencies. 

Officials from President Joe Biden’s administration emphasized that the White House would not lift the ‘Title 42’ order put in place by former President Donald Trump’s administration that has essentially cut off access to asylum for hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking to enter from Mexico.

The precise date in early November when the restrictions will be lifted on both land and air travel will be announced ‘very soon,’ one of the officials said, adding the that Biden administration was ‘creating a consistent stringent protocol for all foreign nationals traveling into the United States.’

Migrants, many from Haiti, are seen at an encampment along the Del Rio International Bridge near the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas. The U.S. is flying Haitians camped on the Texas-Mexico border back to their homeland and blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico

Canada on August 9 began allowing fully vaccinated U.S. visitors for non-essential travel.

Once the U.S. curbs are lifted, non-essential foreign visitors crossing U.S. land borders, such as tourists, will be able to visit if they are vaccinated. 

In early January, the United States will require essential visitors, like truck drivers, to be vaccinated to cross land borders, the officials said.

U.S. lawmakers have been pushing the White House to lift restrictions that have barred non-essential travel by Canadians across the northern U.S. border since March 2020, and many border communities have been hit hard by the closure.

Mexico has also pressed the Biden administration to ease restrictions.

Senator Maria Cantwell said the announcement ‘will provide great relief to those waiting to see friends and loved ones from Canada.’

The U.S. also said it would extend the vaccine requirements to foreign air travelers from all countries around the world.

Airline passengers who are fully vaccinated will also be allowed to travel between Mexico, US and Canada if they show are able to show proof of vaccination no more than 3 days before returning or coming to the US by air

Foreign visitors crossing into the United States by land or ferry will need to be vaccinated but will not necessarily need to show proof of vaccination unless they are referred by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for secondary inspections.

By contrast, all non-U.S. air travelers will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight, and will need to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.

Foreign visitors crossing a land border will not need to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the United States would accept the use by international visitors of COVID-19 vaccines authorized by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization.

One question unanswered is whether the United States will accept vaccines from visitors who received doses of two different COVID-19 vaccines.

The U.S. land border restrictions have not barred U.S. citizens from returning home.

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