The U.S. Government will lift next month a 19-month ban imposed on foreign nationals at its land borders with Canada and Mexico on condition that travelers are fully vaccinated.

Tuesday, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas made an announcement to this effect following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health experts.

“In alignment with the new international air travel system that will be implemented in November, we will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings,” said Mayorkas. “Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will amend Title 19 regulations in two phases over the next few months.

In November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin allowing fully vaccinated travelers from Mexico or Canada to enter the United States at land and ferry points of entry for non-essential reasons. Travelers will be required to possess a document that provides proof of vaccination. Individuals who have not been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel for non-essential purposes from Canada and Mexico into the United States via land and ferry POEs.

Beginning in early January, DHS will require that all inbound foreign national travelers crossing U.S. land or ferry POEs – whether for essential or non-essential reasons – be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination. This approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers, students, and healthcare workers to get vaccinated.

“This new travel system will create consistent, stringent protocols for all foreign nationals traveling to the United States – whether by air, land, or ferry – and accounts for the wide availability of COVID-19 vaccinations,” DHS said in a press release.

Restrictions on non-essential travelers had come into effect in March last year to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer welcomed the move. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, members of our shared cross-border community have felt the pain and economic hardship of the land border closures. That pain is about to end,” he said in a statement.

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