After 19 months of closure, the United States will reopen its land border to fully vaccinated Canadian travelers next month.
The border has been open for essential travel for most of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, students, truck drivers, U.S citizens, and healthcare workers could still cross the land border from Canada.
But non-essential travel hasn’t been allowed for almost two years.
The Department of Homeland Security said, “This approach will provide ample time for essential travelers… to get vaccinated.”
They also said the U.S administration “will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings.”
The U.S government hasn’t given an exact date on the border reopening. An official told the Reuters News Agency that the U.S government will announce a reopening date “very soon.”
The decision to reopen the land borders coincides with the reopening of international air travel into the U.S according to officials. The White House announced that the U.S would reopen to international travelers for the first time in 19 months in November.
The New Entry Requirements
The CDC has declared that the U.S will accept any vaccination approved by the World Health Organization. Many travelers were concerned the US would only accept vaccines approved for usage in the United States.
However, the U.S will accept the AstraZeneca vaccine that Canada has widely used across the country.
The World Health Organization has approved the following vaccines:
- Johnson & Johnson
Border officials will ask travelers entering the U.S by vehicle, rail, and ferry to provide proof of vaccination. There will be no testing required to enter the U.S via land or sea if they provide proof of vaccination.
Officials will have the discretion to send travelers to further screenings to have their documents checked on the border. The U.S will require essential travelers, such as truck drivers, to be fully vaccinated by January.
Officials added that the CDC is still discussing whether foreigners who cross the border from Canada with two doses of another vaccine that’s not on the WHO-approved list of vaccines will be allowed to cross.
The Reaction From Both Sides Of The Border
Lawmakers on both sides of the border praised the decision.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, “Since the beginning of the pandemic, members of our shared cross-border community have felt the pain and economic hardship of the land border closures. That pain is about to end.”
Republican politician Brian Higgins said, “For months now, we’ve heard from businesses that are suffering and families distraught over the separation imposed by the continued border shutdown.
“Strong vaccination rates in Canada made the continued border shutdown absurd and unjustifiable.”
Senator Kristen Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said the travel restriction had cost Erie County $600 million annually.
She said, “This reopening will be welcome news to countless businesses, medical providers, families, and loved ones that depend on travel across the northern border.”
The COVID-19 Situation In The U.S.
Cases of COVID-19 are dropping in the United States. The current 7-day average is 91,399, a drop of more than 50 percent in the previous month.
The U.S has administered 404 million vaccine doses in the last nine months. As a result, 57 percent of the population is fully vaccinated from COVID-19.
Restrictions within the United States vary from state to state. Some states have entirely dropped restrictions, whereas other states have mask mandates and social distancing in place.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com