The US homeland security department on Wednesday said that the country’s land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed for all non-essential travel until August 21, reported news agency Reuters. The United States closed land borders for all non-essential travel at the start of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in March 2020 and continued extending it on a monthly basis. It has been extended for another 30 days even as they have allowed Canadians to fly in.
The extension came days after Canada announced its decision to allow fully vaccinated visitors from the US starting August 9. According to Reuters report, the Biden administration is yet to decide whether only fully-vaccinated individuals would be allowed whenever the land borders get opened up for non-essential travel.
On the other hand, Canada has announced that only fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents currently residing in the US will be allowed from August 9.
The White House is reportedly planning a new round of high-level meetings to discuss the travel restrictions amid pressure from businesses in Canada and the US to open the land borders, as per Reuters. The airline and tourism industry has suffered a huge loss during the pandemic due to restrictions on non-essential travel.
The reopening of businesses and easing travel restrictions in the US have been made possible due to the high vaccination rate but the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant combined with vaccine hesitancy in many communities have threatened the gains.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, accounts for about 83% of Covid-19 cases in the United States, health officials said on Tuesday. During a Senate hearing, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said that deaths from the infection averaged 239 per day over the past week, nearly 48% higher than the previous week.
(With inputs from Reuters)