October 15, 2021 1:00 pm
U.S. to reopen land borders in November for fully vaccinated

U.S. to reopen land borders in November for fully vaccinated

WASHINGTON — The U.S. will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel next month, ending a 19-month freeze due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the country moves to require all international visitors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Vehicle, rail and ferry travel between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to essential travel, such as trade, since the earliest days of the pandemic. 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 have their vaccinations up to mid-January.

Senior administration officials viewed the new policy on Tuesday night under the condition that they remain anonymous in order to discuss the matter before the official announcement.

Both Mexico and Canada have pressed the U.S. for months to ease restrictions on travel that have separated families and curtailed leisure trips since the onset of the pandemic. This latest action follows the announcement last month that the U.S. would end country-based travel bans on air travel and require foreign nationals to be vaccinated.

Officials stated that

Both policies would take effect in November. They didn’t specify a date.

The new rules will only apply to legal entry into the U.S. Officials warned that illegal immigrants may still be expelled under Title 42 authority. This authority was first invoked in 2016 by former President Donald Trump. It has been criticized for removing migrants quickly before they can seek asylum. One of the officials said the U.S. was continuing the policy because cramped conditions in border patrol facilities pose a COVID-19 threat.

According to officials, all travelers who arrive in the U.S. via rail, ferry, or vehicle will need to provide proof of vaccination as part the U.S. Customs and Border Protection admissions procedure. Travelers may have their proof of vaccination checked in secondary screening at the officers’ discretion.

Unlike air travel, for which proof of a negative COVID-19 test is required before boarding a flight to enter the U.S., no testing will be required to enter the U.S. by land or sea, provided the travelers meet the vaccination requirement.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. will allow travelers who have been fully vaccinated using any vaccines that are approved for emergency use by WHO, and not only in the U.S. This means that AstraZeneca, which is widely used in Canada ,, will be accepted.

Officials stated that the CDC was still working on formalizing procedures for admitting people who have received two vaccines as it was quite common in Canada .

Officials stated that the delay in the mandatory vaccination for cross-border travel is intended to allow truck drivers and other road users more time to get shots and to minimize economic disruptions from the mandate.

All in all, 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.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Labor completed the initial draft of an emergency regulation that will require employers of 100 workers or more to demand their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly. Before the order is implemented, the Office of Management and Budget will be reviewing it.

Mexico has not put in place any COVID-19 entry procedures for travelers. Canada allows entry of fully-vaccinated individuals with proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as well as proof of a negative test conducted within 72 hours of entry to the country.

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