Update: (10/15/21): White House Assistant Press Secretary Kevin Munoz confirmed Friday the United States is opening its borders to for nonessential foreign travel. “The US’ new travel policy that requires vaccination for foreign national travelers to the United States will begin on Nov. 8,” Munoz tweeted. “This announcement and date applies to both international air travel and land travel.”
Original Story: (10/13/21): Late Tuesday, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced the United States would reopen its land borders for some nonessential travel. The latest move follows last month’s announcement that the U.S. will end country-based travel bans for air travel, requiring vaccination for foreign nationals looking to fly to the U.S. instead. The video above show reaction from people in America’s largest border city, San Diego.
“In alignment with the new international air travel system that will be implemented in November, we 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,” Secretary Mayorkas said in a Department of Homeland Security press release. “Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner.”
The department also announced that beginning in early January 2022, those who travel across the reopened land borders, even for essential reasons, will have to be vaccinated. According to the press release, “this approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers, students, and healthcare workers to get vaccinated”.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization. That means that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is widely used in Canada but not approved in the U.S., will be accepted. Officials said the CDC was still working to figure out the procedure for admitting those who received doses of two different vaccines, which Canada allows.
Although it’s on a similar timeline as the country’s new air travel policy, the new policy for reopening land borders does have its differences. For example, while proof of a negative COVID-19 test is required before boarding a flight to enter the U.S., no testing will be required to enter the U.S. by land or sea, as long as travelers meet the vaccination requirement.
Both Mexico and Canada have pressed the U.S. for months to ease restrictions on travel. Canada even opened its border to the U.S. back in August.