OROVILLE – The U.S. is planning to reopen land borders for nonessential travel Nov. 8. This move marks the end of a 19-month border freeze due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that the Department of Homeland Security will amend certain regulations to allow nonessential travelers from Canada and Mexico to enter the U.S. if they are fully vaccinated.
The rules for land and ferry entry are to parallel new air travel regulations also set to take effect in early November. The U.S. had announced last month that they would be moving away from country-based air travel bans and would move towards requiring vaccination instead.
“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,” Mayorkas said. “Including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings.”
The new rules are part of a phase-reopening, with part two to place in early January. By then, DHS plans to require that all inbound, foreign travelers be fully vaccinated with proof, regardless of whether the travel is essential or not.
Sen. Patty Murray hailed the border reopening news with an Oct. 12 statement, highlighting the economic relief a reopened border would bring, especially for the community of Point Roberts.
“This is great news for our border communities here in Washington state,” Murray said. “Especially for the people of Point Roberts who are almost entirely dependent on cross-border travel to sustain their local economy.”
Point Roberts is a small community in northern Washington with no land connection to the rest of the state or contiguous U.S. except via water or through Canada. The community has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic as most of the economy comes in from the greater Vancouver area.
Other officials in Washington, including Gov. Jay Inslee, are also happy with the news – both for the U.S. and small enclave communities like Point Roberts.
“Washingtonians have long been ready to welcome back Canadians traveling by land. I am pleased to hear from reports out of our nation’s capital this may finally happen in early November.
“The local economies of border communities in Washington and other states are connected to our friends across the border, and their recovery from the pandemic has been delayed by the border closure,” Inslee said in his Oct. 13 statement.