The U.S. government is planning in early November to allow fully vaccinated Canadians to cross its land border with Canada, officials said Tuesday night. The border has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
In a statement, New York Rep. Brian Higgins broke the news, which was also confirmed by senior Biden administration officials who previewed the new policy to the Associated Press.
“At long last, there is action by the United States to open the doors and welcome back our Canadian neighbours,” Higgins said in the statement. The U.S. lawmaker, a Democrat, has been pushing for the border between the two countries to re-open for months now.
According to The Associated Press, the U.S. will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel in November, as the country moves to require all international visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19. By mid-January, even essential travelers seeking to enter the U.S., such as truck drivers, will need to be fully vaccinated.
Reuters reported the restrictions will be lifted on land borders and ferry crossings in early November, according to two U.S. officials. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is expected to make the announcement on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
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, provided the travellers meet the vaccination requirement, The Associated Press reported.
The agency also reported that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. will accept travellers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those in use in the U.S. — meaning the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted.
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Officials said the CDC was still working to formalize procedures for admitting those who received mixed doses, which was fairly common in Canada.
On Aug. 9, 2021, Canada reopened its border to vaccinated Americans, but the U.S. continued to shut out Canadians regardless of vaccination status until at least Oct. 21, 2021.
In 2019, before the pandemic hit, more than 10.5 million people crossed the Buffalo Niagara Falls border, according to statistics cited in a release by Higgins’ office on Friday. In 2020, that number dropped drastically, to 1.7 million people crossing via passenger vehicle into the Buffalo Niagara region.
“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 to Reuters.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul lauded the reopening plans in a tweet: “From Western New York to the North Country, I look forward to welcoming our Canadian neighbors back to New York as we continue to rebuild and recover from this pandemic.”
With files from The Associated Press
Erin LeBlanc is a reporter for the Star’s radio room based in Toronto. Reach Erin via email: [email protected]
Maryam Shah is a Toronto-based team editor for the Star. Reach her via email: [email protected]
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