The United States will open its land borders with Mexico and Canada at the beginning of November to travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 who enter for reasons considered non-essential, a senior White House official announced on Wednesday.
The official said in a conference call that the precise date of entry into force of the new regulation will be announced “in the next few days” for these trips by land, as well as for international trips by plane, subject to the same calendar and for those which mandatory vaccination had been announced on September 20.
“Iran hand in hand,” according to the White House source.
Faced with the pandemic, the United States closed its borders since March 2020 for millions of travelers coming in particular from the European Union, the United Kingdom or China, later from India or Brazil. But also for visitors arriving by land from Canada and Mexico.
The restriction has caused painful personal situations and financial damage.
Regarding land border crossing, the source said that the new system would be implemented in “two phases.”
Initially, vaccinations will be required for “non-essential” trips, such as tourism or to visit family members, and the vaccination requirement will not apply to “essential” trips, which have always been allowed.
For the second phase, from “early January” 2022, all travelers must be fully vaccinated regardless of the nature of the trip.
This will allow “enough time” for, for example, drivers of heavy vehicles who have compelling professional reasons to cross the border to be vaccinated, the White House explained.
The source indicated that the restrictions in force for these land borders, which expire on October 21, would be extended once again until the date of entry into force of the new device.
Also read: Mexico and the US relaunch cooperation on security matters, what does the agreement consist of?
Asked about the vaccines that will allow entry to the territory, the high official referred to recent indications from the US health authorities.
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the main federal public health agency, has “informed the airlines that all vaccines approved by the FDA (the United States Drug Administration) and the World Organization Health would be accepted for air travel.
“It will be the same for land travel,” the senior official anticipated, and specified that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not administered in the United States, would also be accepted.
The source clarified that the lifting of the restrictions would only affect legal entry by land into the territory.
He confirmed that “Title 42”, the controversial law that allowed the Trump administration and later the Biden administration to deport irregular people for health reasons, since the start of the pandemic, will continue to apply.
This text, criticized by associations because it would particularly restrict the right to asylum, was invoked by the White House to massively expel Haitians who had recently gathered on the border with Mexico.
Regarding air transport, the senior official said that the Biden administration has yet to finalize the procedure, in particular everything that involves the tracking of people entering the territory and the tests that will be carried out on travelers.
Also read: What are the coronavirus vaccines that the US will allow for foreigners who want to enter the country
Mexico celebrates reopening
“The closeness that we have at this time with the United States in matters that have to do with millions of people has not been seen for many years,” said the Mexican Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, during the morning press conference of the president, Andrés Manuel López Orador, in the National Palace.
The White House announced Tuesday night that it will open its land borders with Mexico and Canada on a November date yet to be confirmed and will require travelers who want to enter a proof of vaccination with a full schedule.
The reopening of the border, until now closed to non-essential travel, has been a repeated demand from Mexico, which in summer accelerated vaccination in the 45 border municipalities to facilitate an agreement on the matter.
Ebrard recalled that both governments agreed to create a working group on the border during the visit to Mexico by US Vice President Kamala Harris in June.
Since then they have been “working closely” and sharing information with the Secretary of National Security, Alejandro Mayorkas.
“The vaccination averages in Mexico, especially in the northern region, but also in the rest of the country, are very high, comparable to those in the United States, there are even cities in Mexico that have more vaccinated than their counterparts in the United States” , said Ebrard.
The Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations revealed that there are other meetings scheduled to study the vaccination certificates that will be necessary for the border crossing.
And he celebrated that the United States will accept “all vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO)”, and not only those manufactured in that country.
Mexico has applied 3.7 million Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, some donated by the United States, to complete the immunization in the 45 border municipalities of the northern states of Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas.
So far, 48.9 million of the 126 million Mexicans have completed the vaccination scheme throughout the country.
President López Obrador considered the reopening of the border “very good news” and attributed it to the “management of the Government of Mexico before the United States.”