Washington, Oct. 13 (BNA): The United States will reopen its land borders to non-essential travel next month, ending a 19-month freeze caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country moves to require all international visitors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. .
Travel by car, rail, and ferry between the United States, Canada and Mexico has been largely limited to essential travel, such as commerce, from the early days of the pandemic. The new rules, to be announced on 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 for air travel into the country is set to begin. By mid-January, even essential travelers seeking to enter the United States, such as truck drivers, will need to be fully vaccinated.
Senior administration officials reviewed the new policy late Tuesday on condition of anonymity to speak before the official announcement, the Associated Press reported.
Both Mexico and Canada have lobbied the United States for months to ease travel restrictions that have separated families and curtailed recreational trips since the start of the pandemic. The latest move follows an announcement last month that the United States will end the country’s travel ban on air travel, and instead require vaccination for foreign nationals seeking entry by plane.
The new rules apply only to legal entry for US officials who have warned that those seeking to enter illegally would still be subject to expulsion under the so-called authority of Title 42, first invoked by former President Donald Trump, and which promptly drew criticism from immigration advocates. Migrants are deported before they can claim asylum. One official said the United States is continuing this policy because crowded conditions at border patrol facilities pose a threat to COVID-19.
According to officials, travelers entering the United States by vehicle, rail and ferry will be asked about their vaccination status as part of standard admissions procedures at US Customs and Border Protection. At the officers’ discretion, proof of vaccination for travelers will be verified in a secondary screening process.
Unlike air travel, where proof of a negative COVID-19 test is required before boarding a flight to enter the United States, no testing will be required to enter the United States by land or sea, provided travelers meet 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 just those used in the United States. This means that the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted.
Officials said the CDC is still working to formalize the admission procedures for those who have received doses of two different vaccines, as was fairly common in Canada.
Officials said the delay in the vaccination requirement for essential cross-border travel is intended to provide truck drivers and others extra time to get a chance and reduce potential economic disruption from the vaccination mandate.
Finally, the new measures are moving toward a policy based on risk profiles for individuals, rather than less targeted state bans.
The vaccination requirement for foreign nationals comes as the White House has moved to force a blanket vaccination or test requirement that affects up to 100 million people in the United States in a bid to encourage the naysayers to get shots.
On Tuesday, the US Department of Labor completed the initial draft of an emergency law that would require employers of 100 or more workers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly. The Office of Management and Budget is now reviewing the order prior to its implementation.
Mexico has not instituted any COVID-19 entry procedures for travelers. Canada allows entry to fully vaccinated individuals with proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as well as evidence of a negative test within 72 hours of entering the country.