United States extends travel restrictions to Mexican and Canadian land borders as it plans to allow fully vaccinated foreign visitors to travel to America


“We have no updates to land border policies at this point. Title 19 is extended for one month, as is done on a monthly basis, until October 21, and as I have said, no further updates on this policy at this point, ”White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Monday.

The news came during the same call with reporters in which the White House announced plans to ease air travel restrictions for all fully vaccinated foreign visitors from November. The announcement adds to the mishmash of Covid-inspired rules that international travelers must navigate when traveling to and from the United States. While the rules announced by Zients for all foreign travelers traveling to the United States are expected to take effect after October 21, the extension raises the possibility that fully vaccinated foreign visitors could fly to the United States but not drive there to the United States. over American lands. border crossings.

CNN asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for comment on the public health guidelines that led to the latest extension.

The United States has been limiting non-essential ground travel along both borders since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and is extending those restrictions on a monthly basis. However, air travel between countries is possible. The restrictions do not apply to cross-border trade, US citizens and lawful permanent residents, and people traveling for medical purposes or to attend school, among others.

Travel restrictions have come under close scrutiny from lobbyists, lawmakers and border mayors who have pleaded with the Biden administration to adjust the limits to accommodate the changing landscape.

The new rules announced by Zients in the Monday morning appeal will require all foreign nationals arriving in the United States by air to prove that they are fully vaccinated. He said the new rules would come into effect in early November, a timeline that will give agencies and airlines “time to prepare.”

As the pandemic took hold in March 2020, several countries joined with the United States in closing their borders. But with the rollout of the vaccine and other Covid mitigation measures, many countries have relaxed their restrictions. Canada, for example, instituted a vaccine requirement that allows fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents to enter the country.

Keep the two borders on the same track

The United States has previously told Canadians that the Biden administration wants the rules on the two land borders to remain symmetrical, a source close to the talks told CNN, despite different border situations and inconsistencies with transport rules. air.

The US-Mexico border has faced an influx of migrants that has exceeded resources, sparking some concern among US customs and border protection officials over the relaxation of travel restrictions at the southern border of the states. -United while increasing staff to help increase the number of migrants. The Canada-US land border does not face this problem.

The changes announced on Monday were specifically related to international air travel, and an official said the decision to reopen land borders will be made separately. The official said discussions with his Canadian counterparts through White House-led task forces on reopening travel would be ongoing.

Last month, Marco Mendicino, Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, met with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. After the meeting, Mendicino told CNN of the travel restrictions: “At the end of the day, we have to stick to the timeline for this decision, as I know the US has done for Canada. we will do is keep the line of communication open. “

New York Representative Brian Higgins, who chairs the Northern Border Caucus and the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, called the continued border closure “unnecessary and unexplained”.

“It is good news that the White House is making progress in reciprocating international public health measures to protect air travelers. Yet it is inexplicable that no announcement on the relaxation of travel restrictions at points of land entry will not be made today since the livelihoods of communities across the northern border depend on cross-border trade, ”the Democrat said in a statement.

A long process

Several countries in Europe have opened their borders to Americans, many of them instituting similar rules allowing fully vaccinated people to enter their countries.

President Joe Biden announced earlier this year that he would convene a series of task forces to consider reopening travel, but months have passed with little evidence for the effort. Overseen by the White House Covid-19 Response Team and the National Security Council, the groups include representatives of the cdca as well as officials from the Departments of State, Health and Human Services, Security interior and Transport.

US officials were in partnership with officials from the European Union, UK, Canada and Mexico and have met on several occasions to discuss the reopening situation since the administration announced them at the start. of Biden’s first overseas trip in June. There were also several breakout conversations between these larger meetings to discuss specific issues, such as the epidemiological situation, variants, surveillance and vaccination efforts, and plans to change travel restrictions, said a White House official at CNN.

But some people familiar with the task forces had questioned their effectiveness, as other countries began to open up to Americans with little clarity on whether the United States would reciprocate. A source familiar with the discussions described a “paralysis among the agencies” over the next steps.

This story has been updated with additional reports.

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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