The United States will open its land borders to all travelers next month. This is in addition to the 19-month-old freeze caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, only essential travel such as trade and commerce was allowed to be done by vehicle, rail, and ferry between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The new rules will allow foreigners who have been fully vaccinated to enter the U.S. starting in November. A similar relaxation of restrictions will be in place for air travel. Even essential travelers, such as truck drivers, who wish to enter the U.S. will need to be fully immunized by mid-January.
Senior officials from the administration viewed the new policy on Tuesday night under the condition that they remain anonymous in order to discuss the matter before the official announcement.
Canada and Mexico have been pressing the U.S. for months to relax travel restrictions that have caused separation of families and reduced leisure travel since the outbreak of the pandemic. This latest move comes after the U.S. announced last month that it will no longer ban travel by country and require foreign nationals to get vaccination before they allow them to travel.
According to officials, both policies will be in effect by November 1. They didn’t specify a date.
Officials said that the new rules will only apply to legal entry into the U.S. However, those who attempt to enter illegally may still be expelled under Title 42 authority. This authority was first invoked by President Donald Trump. It has been criticized for removing migrants quickly before they can seek asylum. One official stated that the U.S. is continuing this policy because of the COVID-19 threat posed by cramped conditions at border patrol facilities.
Officials say that travelers arriving in the U.S. by rail, vehicle, or ferry will need to provide proof of vaccination as part the U.S. Customs and Border Protection admissions process. Travelers may have their proof of vaccination checked in secondary screening at the officers’ discretion.
Contrary to air travel, where proof of a negative COVID-19 is required before you board a flight to enter America, there will not be any testing required to enter the United States by land or water, provided that the travelers comply with the vaccination requirements.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that travelers to the United States will be allowed to travel if they have been fully vaccinated using any vaccine approved for emergency use by World Health Organization. This includes the AstraZeneca vaccine which is widely used in Canada.
Officials stated that the CDC was still trying to establish procedures for admitting people who have received two vaccines. This is quite common in Canada.
Officials explained that the delay in the mandatory vaccination for cross-border travel is to allow truck drivers and other road users more time to get their shots and to minimize any disruptions from the mandated vaccination.
The new procedures are moving towards a policy that is based on risk profiles of individuals and not less targeted countries-based bans.
The vaccination requirement for foreign nationals comes as the White House has moved to impose sweeping vaccination-or-testing requirements affecting as many as 100 million people in the U.S. in an effort to encourage holdouts to get shots.
The U.S. Department of Labor has completed Tuesday’s initial draft of an emergency regulation requiring employers with 100 or more employees to require their employees to be tested for COVID-19 every week or vaccinated. Before the order is implemented, the Office of Management and Budget will be reviewing it.
Mexico does not have any COVID-19 travel procedures. Canada allows fully-vaccinated persons to enter the country with proof of vaccination against COVID-19 and proof that a negative test was performed within 72 hours.