Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

US to open borders with Mexico, Canada to fully vaccinated travelers, and the United States to allow fully vaccinationed travelers in all 50 states

US to open borders with Mexico, Canada to fully vaccinated travelers, and the United States to allow fully vaccinationed travelers in all 50 states

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 nation 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 confined to essential travel, such as commerce, in large part. The new regulations, which will be announced Wednesday, will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the United States regardless of the reason for travel starting in early November, when a similar easing of restrictions will take effect for air travel into the country. Even essential travelers who wish to enter the United States, like truck drivers, will have to be fully vaccinated by mid-January.

Senior administration officials spoke ahead of the formal announcement late Tuesday, requesting anonymity to speak on condition of anonymization.

Both Mexico and Canada have been urging the United States for months to ease travel restrictions that have separated families and restricted leisure trips since the outbreak of the epidemic. The latest move follows last months announcement that the United States will end country-based travel restrictions for air travel and instead require vaccination for foreign nationals who wish to enter by plane.

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

The new rules only apply to legal entry to the United States, officials said, adding that those entering illegally may still be subject to expulsion under the so-called Title 42 authority, first invoked by former President Donald Trump, which has sparked criticism from immigration advocates for removing migrants quickly before they may seek asylum. One of the officials said the United States is continuing the policy because of a COVID-19 threat from cramped conditions in border patrol facilities.

As part of the normal Customs and Border Protection admissions process, visitors who arrive in the United States by car, train, or ferry will be asked about their vaccination status. In a secondary screening, travelers proof of vaccination will be verified at the discretion of the officers.

Unlike air travel, for which a negative COVID-19 test is required before boarding sailed to enter the United States, no COVD 19 tests will be required to get into the country by land or sea, if the travelers meet the vaccination requirements.

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 only those in use in the U.S. That means the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted.

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

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

Overall, the new procedures favor a policy based on individual risk profiles rather than more country-based bans.

The vaccination requirement for foreign nationals comes as the White House has announced broad vaccination-or-testing requirements for as many as 100 million Americans in the United States in an effort to encourage holdouts to get shots.

On Tuesday, the United States Department of Labor completed the first draft of an emergency regulation that would require employers of 100 workers or more to require their workers 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 requirements for travelers. Within 72 hours of entry into the country, fully-vaccinated individuals with proof of COVID-19 vaccination as well as a negative test must show up.

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