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U.S. extends travel restrictions at Canada, Mexico borders

Last Updated Jul 21, 2021 at 1:01 pm PDT

Summary

U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential travel at its land borders with Canada and Mexico until at least Aug. 21

U.S. cites continued concern over COVID-19 pandemic, case counts as reason for extension

Canada set to allow American travellers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 into the country as of Aug. 9

VANCOUVER – The U.S. is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at its land borders with Canada and Mexico until at least Aug. 21, according to multiple reports and a pre-published document on the U.S. Federal Register.

The document says “given the outbreak and continued transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID19 within the United States and globally, (the Department of Homeland Security) had determined that the risk of continued transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID-19 between the United States and Canada posed a ‘specific threat to human life or national interests.'”

This comes just days after Canada announced an easing of its own travel restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The federal government said Monday that it would begin allowing fully vaccinated Americans into the country as of Aug. 9. It aims to welcome fully vaccinated international travellers starting Sept. 7.

On Monday, Canada Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he had spoken with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Friday, at which point the U.S. had not indicated any plan to change its restrictions at its land borders. Blair said Mayorkas had warned him the U.S. would not be following Canada’s lead in easing some measures.

Border experts say the Biden administration is likely not ready to open the U.S.-Mexico border, given the existing refugee crisis there, and wants both frontiers opened at the same time.

While the land border remains closed to non-essential travel, Canadians are able to fly into the U.S. with a negative COVID-19 test.

“DHS continues to monitor and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” reads the U.S. notification, which says restrictions go into effect on July 22. “As of the week of July 12, 2021, there have been over 186 million confirmed cases globally, with over 4 million confirmed deaths. There have been over 33.7 million confirmed and probable cases within the United States, over 1.4 million confirmed cases in Canada, and over 2.6 million confirmed cases in Mexico.”

The current restrictions were set to expire at the end of the day on July 21.

Related Article: Blue Jays’ Seattle games off-limits to many Canadians amid U.S. border restrictions

Extension ‘defies science and logic’ Canadian Chamber of Commerce

With word non-essential travel will continue to be limited into the U.S. for an additional month, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce says it’s disappointed with the move.

In a statement, CCC President and CEO Perrin Beatty says both sides issued a “Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership” in February that said both sides would “take a coordinated approach based on science and public health criteria” when it came to decisions on restrictions at the Canada-U.S. land border.

“Less than five months later, Washington appears to have lost its copy,” reads the statement.

“In contrast with its commitment, the U.S. decision is uncoordinated with Canada’s announcement on Monday of a border reopening, and it flies in the face of both science and the most recent public health data,” Beatty writes.

“It’s hard to see how allowing fully vaccinated Canadians to enter the U.S. poses a public health threat when travel within the U.S. is unrestricted. Vaccination rates in Canada are higher than in the US and infection rates are dramatically lower. Additionally, the U.S. policy applies very different standards to travelers crossing at a land border than those who fly.”

The chamber is urging the federal government to “press the U.S. administration” to revisit the extension, saying there’s “no justification for continuing to keep families apart and to discourage travel for both tourism and business.”

-With files from The Canadian Press, Cormac Mac Sweeney, Lucas Casaletto, and Michael Ranger