CANMORE, ALTA. — The United States land and sea border will reopen to non-essential travel in November after a record long closure due to concerns over COVID-19.
The White House confirmed Tuesday night that fully vaccinated visitors from Canada and Mexico will be welcomed at land border crossings next month; however, officials would not specify what vaccines would be accepted or if mixed doses will meet eligibility tests.
CTV News asked White House officials whether AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which has not been approved for use in the U.S., would be accepted under the travel eligibility guidelines and was told the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is working on the guidelines, but has no definitive answers at this time.
The question of whether or not mixed doses would be accepted was met with the same answer.
The restrictions on non-essential travel at the U.S. border have been in place since March 2020, when the novel coronavirus first began its worldwide spread.
It’s largely unknown why the U.S. has upheld its land border closure for so long – an issue hotly contested by both snowbirds and the travel industry. In contrast, fully vaccinated Americans have been able to enter Canada for non-essential reasons since Aug. 9.
“At long last, there is action by the United States to open the doors and welcome back our Canadian neighbours,” New York Congressman Brian Higgins wrote in a press release.
“For months now we’ve heard from businesses that are suffering and families distraught over the separation imposed by the continued border shutdown. The sign of relief coming from Northern Border communities following this announcement is so loud it can practically be heard on either end of the peace bridge.”
Air travel to the U.S. has been allowed with certain conditions, including proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof that the traveller has recovered from a COVID-19 infection in the past 90 days.
In September, the U.S. announced fully vaccinated foreign travellers will be allowed to enter the U.S. by early November; however, details of the plan have been scarce.
In order to change the land border restrictions, the U.S. will have to make changes to Title 19, which it altered to force the closure of the border.
News of the border reopening will be welcomed by thousands of Canadian snowbirds worried they would be forced to stay home for a second consecutive winter. A sunny destination isn’t the only thing at stake for travellers, many of which own properties they have been largely unable to access during the pandemic.
Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone previously told CTVNews.ca that older travellers typically want a vehicle or an RV at their disposal when in the U.S., especially if they are travelling with pets, and prefer to avoid the hassle of air travel.
“Why two people from the same family packing up their car and heading south across the border is not considered safer than going into an airport terminal with a thousand other people… is beyond any understanding,” Firestone said.