U.S. extends land border rules to Canada and Mexico, eases other travel measures

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While pressure has mounted on US President Joe Biden and his government to reopen land borders with neighboring countries, that will not happen for at least another month. The Biden administration announced that the US-Canada and Mexico borders would remain closed until at least October 21.

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The border has been closed since March 2020.

While travel restrictions are strict for Canadians, the US wants to ease foreign air travel restrictions, which would allow fully vaccinated foreigners to enter the country.

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As of November, any air traveler arriving in the US must provide proof of negative COVID-19 taken at least 72 hours prior to boarding and certification of their double vaccination status.

The new policy announced on Monday will no longer limit travelers to specific countries such as the UK, China and India.

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“It’s an individuals-based rather than a country-based approach, so it’s a robust system,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeffrey Ziants.

The rules will also be tightened for unaffiliated US citizens. Any non-vaccinated American will need to be tested the day before or the day before leaving for the US. Fully vaccinated passengers will not need to be quarantined.

The federal government has added fully vaccinated foreign nationals to the category of travelers who are welcome back to Canadian soil.

Ziants said airlines would be forced to collect contact information from international passengers to allow for contract tracing.

New York Congressman Brian Higgins, one of the most vocal critics of travel restrictions, is calling on the US to fully reopen borders.

“It is welcome news that the White House is making progress on international public health measures to protect air travelers,” Higgins wrote in a statement.

Higgins, which is a congressional district, falls in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, two cities that rely on economic tourism, inflicted on businesses within the community.

“It is inconceivable that no announcement of easing of travel restrictions at land ports of entry is being announced today because the livelihoods of communities across the northern border depend on cross-border commerce,” he said.

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While the US border is closed to Canadians, all fully vaccinated Americans are able to travel to Canada starting August 9.

Canada’s border finally reopened on Monday to fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents.

Americans who live in the US less than 72 hours old will be required to provide a COVID-19 test and are due to arrive two weeks after their last COVID-19 shot. Visitors will also be required to upload vaccination details online and they will be tested upon arrival.

Canada also eased travel restrictions and quarantine requirements for other international travelers who were fully vaccinated earlier this month. As of September 7, any traveler was required to show that they had received two vaccine shots and a negative test for COVID-19 that is not older than 72 hours.

All vaccination details for travelers arriving in Canada need to be entered in either the ArriveCAN app or online website.

While regulations are being eased in the US, it is unclear which vaccines will be accepted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to Zients, the decision will be left to the CDC.

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With files from the Associated Press

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