U.S. to reopen border to vaccinated Canadians in November

It’s an update welcomed as “good news” on both sides of the border. Melissa Duggan on the planned reopening of the U.S. land border to fully vaccinated visitors from Canada next month.

The Biden administration says the United States will reopen its land borders and ports of entry to non-essential travel next month for Canada and Mexico, ending a 19-month freeze because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news was originally shared by U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins in a statement on Twitter and later confirmed by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

“For months now we’ve heard from businesses that are suffering and families distraught over the separation imposed by the continued border shutdown,” Higgins said in a statement Tuesday night.

Proof of vaccination will be required, but it’s not clear if that includes mixed doses. Vaccines approved by either the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization will be accepted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed this week.

But CDC stayed mum on the question of whether those who received a mixed course of vaccines – one dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca and one of Moderna, for instance – would be considered fully vaccinated for travel purposes.

In the first stage of loosening restrictions, individuals who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to cross the border for non-essential reasons. Essential workers, including truckers, students and health care workers, will have until early January 2022 before they must also be fully vaccinated to cross the border.

Unlike air travel, for which proof of 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, Higgins confirmed in a press conference on Wednesday.

Higgins also said he would be lobbying for tests not to be required to cross the border back into Canada. Currently, you need to provide a negative COVID-19 test to cross the border from the U.S. to Canada.

The U.S.-Canada border has been closed since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March of 2020, only allowing essential travelers.

Canada reopened land borders to fully vaccinated U.S. visitors on August 9.

The U.S. Representative has been advocating for the reopening of the border. Higgins is the Congressman for 26th District which includes Niagara Falls, a border community in Ontario.

“The sigh of relief coming from Northern Border communities following this announcement is so loud it can practically be heard on either end of the Peace Bridge,” continued his statement.

Higgins is expected to hold a press conference in Niagara Falls Wednesday.

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