The United States plans to reopen its land borders with Mexico and Canada to non-essential travelers fully vaccinated against COVID-19 starting in early November, Biden administration officials said on Tuesday.
The restrictions for non-essential travel at the country’s land borders have been in place since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. News of the new rules from the Department of Homeland Security comes just weeks after President Joe Biden announced similar planned requirements for international air travelers.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is set to formally announce the rules on Wednesday, Biden administration officials told reporters during a press briefing.
“Today and tomorrow, we are announcing that we will be implementing similar requirements for foreign nationals traveling across the land border from Canada and Mexico,” said White House deputy coordinator Natalie Quillian. “To be fully vaccinated is an important step that will further enhance the safety of international travel and the safety of Americans at home.”
Starting in November, alongside the Biden administration’s new international air travel system, the United States will begin allowing fully vaccinated travelers from Mexico and Canada to enter the country for non-essential reasons, such as to visit friends and family or for tourism, Quillian said, noting that unvaccinated travelers will continue to be prohibited from entering the country for non-essential reasons.
Quillian told reporters that as part of the system’s second phase, beginning in early January next year, the Biden administration will require inbound foreign national travelers crossing land borders to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, whether traveling for essential or non-essential reasons.
“Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy,” Mayorkas said in a statement on Twitter. “We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner.”
Several lawmakers praised the decision to lift the travel restrictions that were implemented as part of measures to curb the transmission of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“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.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said the Biden administration’s announcement “will provide great relief to those waiting to see friends and loved ones from Canada.”
Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.