The U.S. will reopen its land borders to vaccinated non-essential visitors on Nov. 8, a White House official says.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a policy not yet made public, says travellers will need to show proof of vaccination to Customs and Border Protection officials upon request.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently working on the operational details, such as what will constitute acceptable proof and which “very limited” exceptions might be allowed.
Vaccines approved by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization will be accepted for international air travel, and “we anticipate the same will be true at the land border,” the official said.
What’s still not clear is whether people who received doses of two different vaccines, a condition that impacts roughly four million Canadians, will be considered fully vaccinated for travel purposes.
New York congressman Brian Higgins has written to the CDC to urge the agency to promptly clarify its stance on mixed-dose vaccinations.
“The prospect of millions of Canadian travellers being indefinitely denied access to the United States … is deeply concerning,” Higgins says in Thursday’s letter to CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
“Our livelihoods and way of life depend on the free flow of goods, services and people across the border — often multiple times per day.”
The U.S. Travel Association has estimated the Mexican and Canadian border closures have been costing American businesses $1.5 billion in travel exports — domestic spending by foreign visitors — every month.
Since Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas announced the U.S. plan to ease land-border restrictions this week, would-be travellers and business groups on both sides of the border have been pressing Ottawa to eliminate the need for a costly COVID-19 test in order to cross into Canada.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland all but rejected that idea Thursday, urging Canadians not to let up in their fight against the pandemic — a fight that isn’t over just yet.
“I am not making predictions about the future,” Freeland told a news conference in Washington. But “the rules are the rules, and Canadians should expect to follow them.”
—James McCarten, The Canadian Press
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