Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

In November, the US will reopen land borders between Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated individuals to allow them to enter the United States again

In November, the US will reopen land borders between Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated individuals to allow them to enter the United States again

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

Since the inception of the epidemic, vehicle, rail, and ferry travel between the United States and Canada and Mexico has been restricted in large part to essential travel, such as trade. The new regulations, to be announced Wednesday, will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the United States regardless of the reason for travel beginning in early November, when a similar easing of restrictions is set to take effect for air travel into the country. Even incredibly important travelers who intend to enter the United States, such as truck drivers, will have to be fully vaccinated by mid-January.

Senior administration officials previewed the new approach late Tuesday, under the condition of anonymity, ahead of the formal announcement.

Both Mexico and Canada have been pressing the United States for months to ease travel restrictions that have since the outbreak restricted family gatherings and leisure activities. The latest move follows last month's announcement that the United States will eliminate country-based air travel restrictions and require vaccination for foreigners arriving by plane.

According to the officials, both of these measures will take effect in early November. They didn't specify a specific date.

The new rules only apply to legal entry into the United States. Officials cautioned that those seeking to enter illegally may still be subject to expulsion under the so-called Title 42 authority, first invoked by former President Donald Trump, which has drawn criticism from immigration advocates for swiftly removing migrants before they may seek asylum. One of the officials claimed that the U.S. was continuing the policy because of poor conditions in border patrol facilities that pose a COVID-19 threat.

As part of the usual U.S. Customs and Border Protection admissions procedure, visitors entering the United States by vehicle, train, or ferry will be asked about their vaccination status. In a secondary screening, travelers' proof of vaccination will be verified at officers' discretion.

No COVID-19 testing will be required to enter the United States by land or sea, unless the travelers meet the vaccination requirements, unlike air travel, for which a negative COVD19 test is required before boarding stowed in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those in use in the US. That means that the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted.

Officials said the CDC was still attempting to formalize admission procedures for those who received doses of two different vaccines, as was fairly common in Canada.

The delay in the vaccination requirement for essential cross-border travel is intended to provide truck drivers and others with additional time to get a shot and minimize economic disruption from the vaccine mandate, officials said.

All in all, the new procedures move toward a policy based on individuals' risk profiles, rather than less targeted country-based bans.

The requirement for foreigners to bevaccinated comes as the White House moves to introduce sweeping vaccination-or-testing requirements for as many as 100 million people in the United States in an effort to encourage holdouts to get shots.

On Tuesday, the Department of Labor released the first draft of an emergency regulation that would require employers of 100 workers or more to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly. The Office of Management and Budget is now reviewing the order before it is implemented.

Mexico hasn't implemented any COVID-19 entry procedures for travelers. Canada accepts entry of fully-vaccinated individuals with proof of COVID-19 vaccination as well as a negative test conducted within 72 hours of entry into the country.

You may also like: