This story was updated on Friday, Aug. 20 at 8:52 a.m. (EST)
After weeks of speculation, the United States has officially announced that it will extend its border restrictions with Canada for another 30 days.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) tweeted Friday (Aug. 20) that the U.S. is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at their land and ferry crossing with Canada and Mexico through Sept. 21.
The deadline was previously set for Saturday, Aug. 21.
“In coordination with public health and medical experts, DHS continues working closely with its partners across the United States and internationally to determine how to safely and sustainably resume normal travel,” the DHS's tweet read.
Essential trade and travel will continue across the border, the DHS said.
The update comes as the U.S. continues to grapple with spiking COVID-19 cases due to the highly-contagious Delta variant.
The U.S. land border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020 but Canadians, this entire time, have been allowed to fly into the country.
Shutdowns carry a "steep price"
U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes issued the following statement on Friday:
“Travel restrictions are no longer protecting us from the virus – vaccines are. Every day that our land borders remain closed delays America’s economic and jobs recovery, causing greater damage to the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on travel and tourism.
“For each month the status quo continues at the Canadian border, America’s No. 1 source market of inbound arrivals, the United States loses $1.5 billion in potential travel exports, leaving countless American businesses vulnerable.
“Entry restrictions were urgently needed before effective COVID-19 vaccines were widely available, but these shutdowns carried a steep price – the loss of more than 1 million American jobs and $150 billion in export income last year alone.”
On Aug. 9, Canada reopened its land borders to American travellers for the first time in nearly 17 months.
Under the new rules, eligible U.S. visitors must be fully vaccinated with a Health Canada-approved vaccine for at least 14 days.
Americans – entering Canada by both land and air – must also show proof of a negative 72-hour molecular COVID-19 test and use the ArriveCAN app, or this online web portal, to upload their vaccination documents.
Reopening the border to U.S. citizens who have had their full series of shots “is the right step to do,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters at a news conference on July 27.
“The health data is fairly clear that encouraging or allowing for travel of fully vaccinated individuals is low risk. It’s not zero risk, but it is low risk,” Trudeau said at the time.
The U.S. keeping its border closed may worry Canadian snowbirds who enjoy driving their cars down south – the Canadian Snowbirds Association is saying that it expects 90 per cent of snowbirds with properties in the U.S. to cross the border this winter, CTV News reports.
Despite the extension, the U.S. State Department, at the same time, has lowered its COVID-19 travel advisory for Canada to "Level 2.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), too, has done the same, adjusting its travel warning for Canada to a Level 2 rating.
According to the CDC’s website, Level 2 indicates a “moderate level of COVID-19.”
The CDC advises travellers visiting Level 2 countries to make sure they are fully vaccinated before starting their journey.
“Unvaccinated travellers who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid nonessential travel to Canada,” the CDC warns.