U.S. Lifts Restrictions on Vaccinated Travellers From Mexico and Canada Today

U.S. Lifts Restrictions on Vaccinated Travellers From Mexico and Canada Today
A line of Canadian passenger cars stretches across the Rainbow Bridge between Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York on November 7, 2021, just before midnight. (Photo: Geoff Robins / AFP, Getty Images)

The U.S. formally lifted travel restrictions on Mexico and Canada on Monday almost 20 months after covid-19 pandemic rules were first put in place. It’s just the latest sign that life might be getting back to a pre-pandemic normal for those who are full vaccinated.

People travelling into the U.S. from Mexico and Canada for non-essential travel can finally enter by land, provided they show proof of vaccination against covid-19. Travellers entering the U.S. from Europe by air need to show proof of vaccination as well as a negative covid-19 test taken with 72 hours of departure.

The U.S. closed its borders to non-essential travel with Canada and Mexico in late March of 2020, when it was a practical move to restrict movement in an effort to stop spread of the virus. But the practicality of border closures made less and less sense as the Trump regime made conscious efforts to spread the virus across the country.

Children are exempt from the vaccination requirement for entry into the U.S., but those entering from Europe between the ages of 2 and 17 years old will need to show a negative covid-19 test, according to the U.S. State Department. As the Associated Press notes, anyone trying to enter the U.S. using fake vaccine verification faces potential fines of up to $US35,000 (A$47,172).

Non-essential travel, like visiting friends and family or just tourism, will now be allowed to resume for those who’ve been vaccinated, though essential workers travelling from Canada and Mexico still have a couple of months before they’ll be required to be vaccinated in January of 2022, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Travellers to the U.S. coming in for non-essential activities must have been inoculated using a vaccine that’s recognised by the World Health Organisation for emergency use. There are only eight vaccines recognised internationally, including the most recent from India approved just last week:

  • Moderna
  • Pfizer/BioNTech
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca
  • Covishield/Serum Institute of India
  • Bharat Biotech
  • Sinopharm
  • Sinovac

Notably, China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac have both been recognised by the World Health Organisation, but most people coming from China are still banned from entering the U.S. for non-essential reasons. The most common vaccine in Russia, Sputnik V, still hasn’t been recognised by the World Health Organisation.

Just 58.3% of Americans have been fully vaccinated against covid-19, while Canada’s rate is 73.9%. Mexico’s vaccination rate currently sits at 39.9%.

The U.S. seven-day average for new covid-19 cases is still stubbornly high, with roughly 73,000 new cases each day. The seven-day average for deaths from the disease is also relatively high, with about 1,200 new deaths every day, according to the New York Times.

Mexico’s seven day average for new cases currently sits at about 2,800 new cases each day and 196 daily deaths, while Canada’s seven day average is 2,200 new cases and 26 daily deaths.