US officials declared that the US will lift restrictions at its land borders with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals in early November, ending historic curbs on non-essential travelers in place since March 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rules, which will be formally announced by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday, will cover land borders and ferry crossings. They are similar but not identical to planned requirements announced last month for international air travelers, the officials said in a call with reporters.
Lawmakers from US border states praised the move to lift the unprecedented restrictions which harmed the economies of local communities and prevented visits to friends and families.
“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,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
Unvaccinated visitors will still be barred from entering the United States from Canada or Mexico at land borders.
The officials from President Joe Biden’s administration emphasized that the White House would not lift the “Title 42” order put in place by former President Donald Trump’s administration that has essentially cut off access to asylum for hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking to enter from Mexico.
The precise date in early November when the restrictions will be lifted on both land and air travel will be announced “very soon,” one of the officials said, adding the that Biden administration was “creating a consistent stringent protocol for all foreign nationals traveling into the United States.”
Canada on August 9 began allowing fully vaccinated US visitors for non-essential travel.
Once the US curbs are lifted, non-essential foreign visitors crossing US land borders, such as tourists, will be able to visit if they are vaccinated. In early January, the United States will require essential visitors, like truck drivers, to be vaccinated to cross land borders, the officials said.
US lawmakers have been pushing the White House to lift restrictions that have barred non-essential travel by Canadians across the northern US border since March 2020, and many border communities have been hit hard by the closure. Mexico has also pressed the Biden administration to ease restrictions.