T he U.S. government said on Friday that US land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least March 21, the one-year anniversary of the restrictions to address coronavirus transmission concerns.
This new 30-day extension is the first announced under US President Joe Biden. It comes as the White House has been holding meetings about the possibility of tightening requirements for crossing at US land borders in North America, officials reported.
Canada has shown little interest in lifting the restrictions and recently imposed new COVID-19 testing requirements for some Canadians returning by land crossings.
Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair, confirmed the extension of restrictions through March 21. “We will continue to base our decisions on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe from #COVID19,” Blair said on Twitter.
On Jan. 26, the US government started requiring almost all international air travelers to get negative coronavirus test results within 3 days of travel, but has no similar requirements for land border crossings.
In an executive order issued last month, the US President directed officials to “immediately commence diplomatic outreach to the governments of Canada and Mexico regarding public health protocols for land ports of entry.”
US agencies should submit a plan to Biden within 14 days “to implement appropriate public health measures at land ports of entry,” the order added.
“The plan should implement CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, consistent with applicable law, and take into account the operational considerations relevant to the different populations who enter the United States by land,” it said.
Biden also directed a similar review of sea travel and to “implement appropriate public health measures at sea ports.”