U.S. land borders with Mexico and Canada will reopen in early November to non-essential travelers however only the fully vaccinated will enjoy the freedom to move, a senior White House official announced late Tuesday.
AFP reports the official said the Biden administration would give the “precise date very soon” — both for land crossings as well as expanded international air travel, which would be co-launched.
U.S. borders were closed in March 2020 to travelers coming from the European Union, Britain and China, with India and Brazil added to the list later. Overland visitors from Mexico and Canada were also banned as the country took stock of the growing threat of coronavirus.
The White House source told AFP the land border re-opening would happen in two phases.
The rule changes will only apply to legal land crossings into the country, the official added, as tens of thousands of illegal border crossers have been freely entering the country since the Biden administration took office, as Breitbart News reported.
SHOCK: Alejandro Mayorkas, the nation's border security chief, told migrants how to get past the Title 42 coronavirus border barrier. https://t.co/H5tgoiKyiX
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 26, 2021
Initially, vaccines will be required for “non-essential” trips — such as visiting family or tourism — though unvaccinated travelers will still be allowed into the country for “essential” trips as they have been for the last year and a half.
According to the officials, those entering the U.S. by vehicle, rail and ferry will be asked about their vaccination status as part of the standard U.S. Customs and Border Protection admissions process. At officers’ discretion, travelers will have their proof of vaccination verified in a secondary screening process.
A second phase beginning in “early January” 2022 will require all visitors to the United States to be fully vaccinated, no matter the reason for their trip, the report outlined.
“This phased approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers or others to get vaccinated, enabling a smooth transition to the new system,” the official said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week all vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) would be accepted for entry by air, the official pointed out.
“While the CDC hasn’t made a final determination here, I anticipate that that would be the same for land travel as well,” the official said, explaining that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not administered in the United States, would be accepted.
AP, AFP contributed to this story