After weeks of speculation, businesses on the U.S. side of the border are welcoming news that Canadians could soon be travelling south after the U.S. Government said it would reopen land crossings in November.
The Biden administration has said that the United States will reopen its land borders and ports of entry to non-essential travel next month for Canada and Mexico, ending a 19-month freeze because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The news was originally shared by U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins in a statement on Twitter and later confirmed by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
“For months now we’ve heard from businesses that are suffering and families distraught over the separation imposed by the continued border shutdown,” Higgins said in a statement Tuesday night.
In a reaction to the statement, Cody McCormick, who manages two Duty Free Americas shops in Calais, Maine, said sales are at about a quarter of where they are normally and that the whole town is hurting. He said that while the peak tourism season is well past, he still expects to see a big jump in travellers once the border reopens to fully vaccinated Canadians sometime next month.
U.S. officials have not yet given a specific date for the reopening of land crossings to Canadians, while fully vaccinated U.S. citizens have been allowed into Canada since August.
In the first stage of loosening restrictions, individuals who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to cross the border for non-essential reasons. Essential workers, including truckers, students and health care workers, will have until early January 2022 before they must also be fully vaccinated to cross the border.
It has been stated that proof of vaccination will be required. What has been confirmed through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week is that vaccines approved by either the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization will be accepted. However, many would-be travellers are awaiting word as to whether those who have obtained mixed doses (one dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca, and one dose of Moderna, as an example) would also be accepted. So far, the CDC has remained quiet as to whether individuals who fall into this category would be considered fully vaccinated for travel purposes.
Unlike air travel, for which proof of a negative COVID-19 test is required before boarding a flight to enter the U.S., no testing will be required to enter the U.S. by land or sea, provided the travellers meet the vaccination requirement, Higgins confirmed in a press conference on Wednesday.
Higgins also said he would be lobbying for tests not to be required to cross the border back into Canada. Currently, you need to provide a negative COVID-19 test to cross the border from the U.S. to Canada.
Canada reopened land borders to fully vaccinated U.S. visitors on August 9.
“The sigh 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,” continued Higgins, in his statement.
Higgins is expected to hold a press conference in Niagara Falls Wednesday.
–with files from The Canadian Press and 680news.com