by Joseph Gresser
On Tuesday evening, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced land borders with Canada and Mexico will be reopened to non-essential travelers some time next month. In his announcement, Secretary Mayorkas said potential visitors will have to be fully vaccinated with one of the three vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA0 or ones approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
While only vaccines produced by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have gotten the nod from U.S. health officials, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been widely administered in Canada. People who have had both of those shots will be allowed to cross into the U.S.
The decision follows one announced in September, which said vaccinated visitors will be allowed to fly to the U.S. Officials in border states, including Vermont Governor Phil Scott, expressed irritation that their concerns about the country’s land borders had not been addressed.
Businesses in northern Vermont, particularly Jay Peak Resort, have traditionally depended on Canadian visitors. The border closure, which has lasted more than a year and a half, has caused many serious economic harm.
The statement from the Department of Homeland Security quoted Secretary Mayorkas as saying, ““In alignment with the new international air travel system that will be implemented in November, we will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings. Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner.”
Canadian authorities opened their doors to north-bound travelers in early August. They, too, require all travelers to be fully vaccinated and have take a recent COVID test.