In the latest news that doesn’t come as much of a surprise, the US has extended their land border closures with Canada and Mexico for an additional month.
The Department of Homeland Security revealed the border closure for non-essential travel will be extended to February 21st, stating:
“In order to continue to prevent the spread of COVID, the US, Mexico, Canada will extend the restrictions on non-essential travel through Feb. 21. We are working closely with Mexico & Canada to keep essential trade & travel open while also protecting our citizens from the virus.”
The most current closure was set to expire on the 21st of this month, and this marks the eighth time the closure has been extended for a period of one month since the initial closure in March.
The closure specifically affects land borders, meaning non-essential travel is prohibited between the countries for those traveling by road.
Both Mexico and US are welcoming residents of the continental countries by other methods of travel, such as air, for non-essential purposes, though testing and quarantine requirements are in place.
Canada is prohibiting non-essential travel from the neighbouring countries through other forms of travel, including air.
Border Communities Affected
The closure effectively restricts non-essential travel through land borders. Concurrently, tourism and recreational visits via land borders will not be permissible.
Essential travel which remains open for the land borders includes reasons for work, health, emergencies or compassionate grounds.
These closures are especially challenging for communities living on the US-Canada border. In many areas, the border is divided by roads within housing communities, of which residents regularly frequent the other side to visit friends, family and businesses.
While these affected residents may continue to cross the border if they are dual-nationals, they are subject to testing and quarantine requirements which they feel are excessive given their proximity to the community.
In cases of residents not possessing dual-nationality, the land borders are closed, though Canada has provided allowances for those visiting family.
The US is not allowing Canadians to cross land borders to visit family, unless they are visiting for the purpose of caring for a sick relative.
In some cases, Canadian residents have been left no choice but to fly into the US to visit family that live just minutes away from them by road.
US Working to Ease Restrictions in Future
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has acknowledged they are working with Canada and Mexico to ease restrictions in the future.
The DHS addressed this in a recent tweet, stating:
“#DHS is working closely with our counterparts in Mexico and Canada to identify appropriate public health conditions to safely ease restrictions in the future and support U.S. border communities.”
The DHS further notes that the incoming administration will deliberate the health conditions to ease conditions such as:
– The health risks indicated by the CDC Travel Health notice relating to Canada and Mexico
– Public health conditions and applicable travel restrictions in relevant border localities
– CBP officer staffing levels to consider COVID-19 exposures and/or positive testing to conduct operations relevant to projected increase in traffic
The move to implement testing requirements presents a layer of security in which the eventual easing of border restrictions seems like a possibility.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories