The US is allowing fully vaccinated travelers to enter the United States through its borders with Mexico, and Canada to fully vaccined individuals
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 it 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 largely restricted to essential travel, such as commerce, since the earliest days. The new rules, 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 ease of restrictions is expected to take effect for air travel into the country. Even the most vital travelers seeking to enter the United States, such as truck drivers, will need to be fully vaccinated by mid-January.
Senior administration officials discussed the new policy late Tuesday on the condition of anonymity to speak before the formal announcement, although they declined to state whether they would confirm the change.
Both Mexico and Canada have been pressing the United States for months to ease travel restrictions that have separated families and restricted leisure activities since the outbreak of the epidemic. The latest move comes after last months announcement that the United States would end country-based travel restrictions for air travel and instead require vaccination for foreigners who want to enter by plane.
Both policies will take effect in early November, according to the officials. They didn't specify a specific date.
Officials cautioned that those seeking to enter illegally will 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 opponents for removing migrants quickly before they can seek asylum. One of the officials stated that the U.S. was continuing the policy because of poor conditions in border patrol facilities, which pose a COVID-19 threat.
According to the officials, travelers arriving in the United States by vehicle, rail, and ferry will be asked about their vaccination status as part of the usual U.S. Customs and Border Protection admissions process. In a secondary screening, travelers will have their proof of vaccination verified at the discretion of the police officer.
To enter the United States by land or sea, if the travelers meet the vaccination requirements, there will be no COVID-19 test required.
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 U.S. That means that the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted.
Officials said the CDC was still working to formalize procedures for admitting those who received doses of two different vaccines, as was typical in Canada.
The delay in the vaccination deadline for essential cross-border travel is intended to give truck drivers and others more time to get a shot and minimize potential economic strain from the vaccine mandate, according to officials.
All in all, the new procedures move toward a policy based on individual risk profiles rather than less sweeping country-based bans.
The vaccination requirement for foreign nationals comes as the White House seeks to impose broad vaccination-or-testing requirements on as many as 100 million people in the United States in an attempt to encourage holdouts for vaccinations.
The Department of Labor announced on Tuesday that it has completed the first draft of an emergency regulation that requires employers of 100 or more workers to require their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly. The Office of Management and Budget is now reviewing the order before its implementation.
Mexico has not implemented any COVID-19 entry procedures for travelers. Canada allows entry of fully-vaccinated individuals with evidence of COVID-19 vaccination and a negative test conducted within 72 hours of entry into the country.
Zeke Miller is a writer and editor who works for Zek Miller.