WORLD / AMERICAS
US to open land borders in Nov
All visitors must be fully vaccinated by January 2022
Published: Oct 13, 2021 05:53 PM
A Haitian migrant climbs the Mexico-US border fence near the El Paso border crossing, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on Thursday. Photo: AFP

A Haitian migrant climbs the Mexico-US border fence near the El Paso border crossing, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on Thursday. Photo: AFP


 
The US will open its land borders with Mexico and Canada in early November to non-essential travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a senior White House official announced Tuesday.

The official said the administration would give the "precise date very soon" - both for land crossings as well as international air travel, which would be timed to "go together."

The US had already announced in September that it would lift bans in November on all vaccinated air passengers who undergo testing and contact tracing. In an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, US borders were closed in March 2020 to travelers coming from the European Union, Britain and China, with India and Brazil added to the list later. Overland visitors from Mexico and Canada were also banned.

The nearly 19 months of restrictions led to both personal and economic suffering. The White House source said the land border re-opening would happen in two phases.

Initially, vaccines will be required for "non-essential" trips - such as visiting family or tourism - though unvaccinated travelers will still be allowed into the country for "essential" trips as they have been for the 2020 and a half. 

A second phase beginning in "early January" 2022 will require all visitors to the US to be fully vaccinated, no matter the reason for their trip.

"This phased approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers or others to get vaccinated, enabling a smooth transition to the new system," the official said. The new schedule means the land border restrictions, which are currently set to expire on October 21, would have to be extended one more time before the new rules enter into force, the official indicated. The senior official pointed to recent recommendations from US health authorities for guidance on which vaccines would allow travelers entry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week that all vaccines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) would be accepted for entry by air, the official pointed out.

"While the CDC hasn't made a final determination here, I anticipate that that would be the same for land travel as well," the official said, explaining that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not administered in the US, would be accepted.


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