The United States will open its land borders with Mexico and Canada to non-essential travelers fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in early November, a senior White House official said on Tuesday.
The official said the administration would give the “exact date very soon” – both for land crossings and international air travel, which would be scheduled to “go together.”
The United States had already announced in September that it would lift bans on all vaccinated air passengers who undergo contact tracing and testing in November.
In order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, US borders were closed in March 2020 to travelers from the European Union, Britain and China, with India and Brazil added to the list later. . Overland visitors from Mexico and Canada have also been banned.
The nearly 19 months of restrictions have resulted in personal and economic suffering.
The White House source said the reopening of the land borders will take place in two phases.
Initially, vaccines will be required for “non-essential” travel – such as family visits or tourism – although unvaccinated travelers will still be allowed to enter the country for “essential” travel, as they have been. for a year and a half.
A second phase beginning “early January” 2022 will require all visitors to the United States to be fully immunized, regardless of the reason for their trip.
“This phased approach will allow sufficient time for essential travelers such as truck drivers and others to get vaccinated, allowing a smooth transition to the new system,” the official said.
The new timetable means that land border restrictions, which are currently due to expire on October 21, would have to be extended once more before the new rules take effect, the official said.
Mexico hailed Washington’s decision. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called it “good news”, while Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said it would “activate and accelerate economic growth in the northern border region of Mexico”.
The senior official highlighted recent recommendations from US health officials for advice on vaccines that would allow entry of travelers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week that all vaccines approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) would be accepted for entry. by air, the official said.
“Although the CDC has not made a final decision here, I anticipate it would also be the same for overland travel,” the official said, explaining that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not administered in the United States. United, would be accepted. .
The rule change will only apply to legal land crossings into the country, the official said.
“Title 42” – the controversial Trump-era rule maintained by the Biden administration that allows those who cross illegally to be deported for public health reasons – will remain in place, the official said.
The White House cited Title 42 when thousands of Haitians gathered along the US-Mexico border were deported last month, with critics saying the law unfairly restricts asylum seekers.
The White House official said on Tuesday details were still being sorted out to allow vaccinated air travelers to enter the United States, including plans on how to undertake contact tracing of those visitors. Passengers will also be tested for the coronavirus, the official said.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by DAILYNEWSCATCH staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)