US to reopen borders with Mexico and Canada
The United States has said it will reopen its borders with Mexico and Canada to fully vaccinated travellers from November.
In a statement, its Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it will allow travel for non-essential purposes via land and ferry crossings.
From January 2022, it will also require proof of vaccination for any travel over these crossings, essential or not.
The US has restricted travel from its northern and southern neighbours since March 2020, due to the COVID pandemic.
But President Joe Biden’s administration recently revealed that restrictions on fully jabbed air travellers would be eased in November.
The current rules bar entry to most non-US citizens who have been to the UK, China, India, South Africa, Iran, Brazil and a number of European countries within the last 14 days.
In a statement, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said his department was “pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner”.
But he did not say what date the changes would come into effect.
Last week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said all visitors must receive vaccines approved or recognised for emergency use by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
At present, vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have been approved in the US.
The WHO has also supported these three, along with others made by AstraZeneca-Oxford, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
News of the upcoming announcement has drawn praise from US lawmakers with constituencies along the Canadian border.
Among them was Chuck Schumer, the Democrats’ Senate Majority Leader.
“Kudos to President Biden for doing the right thing and increasing cross border travel between Canada and the US,” he said in a statement.
“This reopening will be welcome news to countless businesses, medical providers, families, and loved ones that depend on travel across the northern border,” added New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
The announcement of new rules in September was a surprise to many – coming days after the US government said it was not the right time to lift restrictions.
The US has recorded more than 42 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, and over 670 000 deaths. (BBC)