The United States will reopen its land border crossings to non-essential travellers from Canada and Mexico who are fully vaccinated.
On Tuesday, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that non-essential travel between the U.S. and its neighbours will resume in two phases beginning in November.
The policy change means that only fully vaccinated people will be allowed to enter the United States via land by 2022, including essential travellers such as truck drivers.
Under the first phase, customs officials at land and ferry crossings will allow tourists and others travelling for non-essential reasons from Canada and Mexico into the U.S., but they must show proof of vaccination.
“Individuals who have not been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel for non-essential purposes from Canada and Mexico into the United States via land and ferry points of entry,” reads a statement on the DHS website.
The second phase will begin in early January when all foreign nationals crossing into the U.S. via land or ferry for essential and non-essential reasons must show proof of full vaccination in order to enter.
“This approach will provide ample time for essential travellers such as truckers, students and health-care workers to get vaccinated,” the statement adds.
The Biden administration is undertaking the move on advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The policy will kick in around the same time as new rules for air travellers entering the U.S. Beginning in November, all airline passengers heading to the country must show proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as negative results from a COVID-19 test taken within three days of flight.
Citing anonymous government officials, the Associated Press reports the U.S. will accept travellers who have received any COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just vaccines approved by U.S. regulators. That means Canadians who received AstraZeneca will be allowed to visit.
The U.S.-Canada land border has been closed to non-essential travellers since the early days of the pandemic in March 2020. Canada reopened the land border to fully vaccinated non-essential visitors from the United States on August 9.
However, the White House kept the crossings closed to Canadians at that time and previously said the border would remain closed to non-essential visitors until at least October 21.