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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

U.S. to Ease Border Restrictions for Land, Ferry Crossings

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Travelers from Canada and Mexico who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to enter the United States over land and ferry border crossings beginning early next month, U.S. officials announced. 

In a statement, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the decision to relax border entry restrictions for nonessential travelers that had been in place since March 2020 came “following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health experts.”

The lifting of restrictions will allow vaccinated individuals to enter the U.S. for nonessential purposes, including visiting friends and family and tourism, said Mayorkas—adding that such travel drives “significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy.”

Travelers will be required to carry “appropriate paperwork” to prove vaccine status, the DHS announcement said. Individuals who aren’t fully vaccinated will continue to be barred from entering the United States.

In a press call, the agency said a specific date in November for the new entry policy for non-essential travel would be announced “very soon.”

And beginning in January 2022, all travelers crossing U.S. land or ferry borders for essential travel—including truck drivers, students and healthcare workers—also will be required to be fully vaccinated, DHS announced. 

The U.S. Travel Association applauded the move to lift restrictions, calling it “overdue.”

“This action will bring a welcome surge in travel from our two top source markets of inbound travel,” said association president and CEO Roger Dow in a statement, citing nearly $700 million per month as the cost to the U.S. economy for the closures of the Canadian and Mexican land borders.

President Joe Biden last month announced that the U.S. would lift air entry restrictions in early November for fully vaccinated travelers from 33 counties, including most of Europe, along with India, China and Brazil, among others.

Global Business Travel Association CEO Suzanne Neufang in an email said the relaxing of border restrictions would have a positive effect on “drive-stay” cross-border business travel and give a “much-needed kick-start” to the economies of communities along both borders.

“Border closures have dramatically affected business travel and the businesses which rely on the movement of people for business purposes,” said Neufang. “We look forward to this policy helping to mend an industry worth $1.4 trillion to the global economy in 2019.”

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