US announces it will lift travel ban for border residents

The U.S. announced Wednesday that it would reopen its borders next month to all non-essential travel, ending a 19 month long freeze. This was a relief for the beleaguered family and business owners.

US announces it will lift travel ban for border residents

Workers whose jobs require crossing land borders from Canada or Mexico have been restricted from traveling across these countries. No matter the reason, fully vaccinated foreign citizens will be allowed to enter the U.S. starting in November. A similar relaxation of restrictions has been made for air travel. Even essential travelers, such as truck drivers who wish to enter the U.S. by mid-January, will have to be fully vaccinated.

Travel restrictions severely affected shopping malls and large box retailers located in U.S. border communities whose parking spaces were filled with cars with Mexican plates.

Todd Gloria, San Diego Mayor, said that although the economic impact of the move was difficult to quantify, it can be seen by the low number of shoppers who visit the high-end outlet center at the city's border in Tijuana. This decision comes just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Jessy Fontes (board member of the Nogales Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce) said that 40 businesses had to close in Nogales due to travel restrictions. She is also the owner of Mariposa Liquidation Store which sells household appliances. He saw his sales drop 60% and considered closing, but instead he reduced his staff to seven from two.

Blanca Larson (executive director of the chamber and visitors bureau in Del Rio, Texas) said that Mexican tourists account for approximately 65% of retail sales in Del Rio.

She said, "Along the Border, we're more like one community than two separate communities."

It has had a huge social and cultural impact. The ban prevented family gatherings between relatives who live on opposite sides of the border. Even though cities far from the U.S. border have made progress towards normalcy, community events have been stalled.

Sault Ste. The Soo Eagles have not played a Canadian opponent at home in over 20 months. This is because of the strong ties between hockey and ice-skating in Michigan. Since the lifting of border restrictions two months ago, the players aged 17-20 have been travelling to Canada. The U.S. team is now allowed to host.

Ron Lavin, coowner of the Eagles, said that he almost fell over when he read it. It's been a frustrating journey for many people on many fronts, far more serious than hockey. But we are just so happy. It's great news for the city.

Since August, U.S. citizens who have been fully vaccinated and permanent residents of the United States have been permitted to enter Canada provided that they have waited at most two weeks after receiving their second dose and can prove that they have passed a negative COVID-19 test. Mexico does not have COVID-19 entry requirements for land travelers.

This latest move comes after the U.S. announced last month that it will no longer ban travel by country and require foreign nationals to get vaccination before they allow them to travel.

These new rules are only applicable to legal entry. Illegal immigrants will be expelled by a public health authority, which allows swift removal of migrants prior to their ability to seek asylum.

As part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Inspection, travelers arriving in the U.S. by rail, ferry or vehicle will need to provide proof of vaccination. Travelers may have their proof of vaccination checked in secondary screening at the discretion of officers.

Contrary to air travel, where proof of a negative COVID-19 is required before you board a flight to enter America, there will not be any testing required to enter America by land or water, as long as the travelers comply with the vaccination requirements.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that travelers to the United States will be allowed to travel if they have been fully vaccinated using any vaccine approved for emergency use by World Health Organization. This includes the AstraZeneca vaccine which is widely used in Canada.

Officials stated that the CDC was still working on formalizing procedures to admit people who have received two vaccines. This is quite common in Canada.

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Mexico, Canada, and elected officials from U.S. Border Regions have been pressing the Biden administration for months to relax restrictions.

"This is a win-win situation for families that have been separated, and businesses and tourism industry whose operations were blocked since the beginning of the pandemic," stated U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire. She was echoing the reactions of other federal and state officials.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico's president, said that it took "many meeting to reach the opening of the frontier." Bill Blair (Canada's minister for public safety), called the announcement "one step closer to returning to normal."

According to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, cross-border traffic has declined since the pandemic.

The number of vehicles crossing the border into the United States from Niagara Falls, New York (the busiest land crossing at the Canadian border) fell 83% to 1.75 million in 2020. It has remained low in this year.

Patrick Kaler, chief executive officer of Visit Buffalo Niagara, an area tourism agency, stated that "losing these customers over the past 18 months has been one reason our hotels, restaurants, and attractions have been struggling."

The nation's busiest border crossing, San Diego's San Ysidro, saw crossings drop 30% to 18 million last year. On Wednesday, taxi drivers were mostly idled on a nearby bridge. One even did exercise.

The number of COVID-19-related cases in the U.S. has fallen to 85,000 per day, which is the lowest rate since July. For the duration of the pandemic the per capita cases in Canada and Mexico were markedly lower than those in the U.S., which exacerbated frustrations over U.S. travel restrictions.

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