“We do not have any updates to the Land Borders Policy at this time. Title 19 will be extended for a further month on a monthly basis through October 21, and as stated, no further updates to this Policy at this point in time,” announced Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator, on Monday.
The news came in the same conversation with reporters that the White House announced that it would be easing flight restrictions for all fully vaccinated foreign visitors from November. The announcement adds to the hodgepodge of Covid-inspired rules that international travelers must use to navigate in and out of the United States. While the rules announced by Zients for all foreign travelers flying to the US are expected to go into effect after October 21, the extension increases the possibility of fully vaccinated foreign visitors flying into the US but not via the country of the USA can enter border crossings.
CNN has asked the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a comment on the public health guidelines that led to the recent renewal.
The US was Restriction of unnecessary journeys on the ground on both borders since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and are extending these restrictions on a monthly basis. However, air travel between the countries is possible. The restrictions do not apply to cross-border trade, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, or those traveling for medical purposes or to attend school, among other things.
The travel restrictions have been scrutinized by lobbyists, lawmakers and border mayors who have pleaded with the Biden government to adjust the borders to the evolving landscape.
The new rules, which Zients announced in the conference call on Monday morning, require all foreigners entering the United States by plane to provide evidence of a full vaccination. He said the new rules would go into effect in early November, a schedule that gives agencies and airlines “time to prepare”.
When the pandemic broke out in March 2020, several countries joined the US in closing their borders. But with the introduction of the vaccine and other measures to contain Covid, many countries have eased their restrictions. Canada, for example, has introduced compulsory vaccination, which allows fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents to enter the country.
Keep both borders on the same track
The US previously told Canadians that the Biden administration wants to keep rules symmetrical at both land borders, a source familiar with discussions told CNN, despite different situations at both borders and inconsistencies with air travel rules.
The U.S.-Mexico border is facing an influx of migrants that has overwhelmed the resources, creating some concerns among U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials about easing travel restrictions on the U.S. southern border while adding staff to help to help a surge in migrants. The land border between the US and Canada does not have this problem.
The changes announced on Monday were specific to international air travel, and one official said the decision to reopen land borders will be made separately. The official said talks with Canadian counterparts would take place although the White House-led task forces on reopening travel were still ongoing.
Last month, Marco Mendicino, Canada’s Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, met with Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mayorkas. After the meeting, Mendicino told CNN of the travel restrictions, “Ultimately, we must respect the timing of this decision, as I know the United States did for Canada. In the meantime we will keep the line of communication “open.”
New York MP Brian Higgins, chairman of the Northern Border Caucus and the Canadian-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, called the continued closure of the border “unnecessary and inexplicable”.
“It is welcome news that the White House is making progress in reciprocating international public health measures to protect air travelers. However, it is inexplicable that no announcement will be made today to ease travel restrictions at inland ports as the livelihoods of communities across the Northern Border depend on cross-border trade, “the Democrat said in a statement.
It’s a long process
Several countries in Europe have opened their borders to Americans, many of them have introduced similar rules that allow fully vaccinated people to enter their countries.
President Joe Biden announced earlier this year that he would convene a number of task forces to investigate the reopening of travel, but months passed with little to show. Under the supervision of the White House Covid-19 Response Team and the National Security Council, the groups include representatives from the cdcal as well as officials from the Department of State, Health and Welfare Department, Home Security and Transportation.
American officials worked with representatives from the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico and have met several times to discuss the reopening situation since the government announced it at the start of Biden’s first trip abroad in June. There were also several smaller group conversations between these larger meetings to discuss specific issues such as the epidemiological situation, variants, surveillance and vaccination efforts, as well as plans to change travel restrictions, a White House official told CNN.
But some people familiar with the working groups had questioned their effectiveness when other countries began to open up to Americans, unsure of whether the US would return the favor. A source familiar with the discussions described the “paralysis among agencies” about the next steps.
This story has been updated with additional reports.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.