The United States will lift its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for international travellers next week, the White House announced Monday (May 1).
The requirement for foreign air travellers and at the Canada-U.S. border, imposed back in 2020, will end on May 11 — the same day the national public health emergency related to the pandemic will be lifted.
The Biden administration will also “start the process to end” vaccine mandates for federal workers, early childhood educators, health-care workers and “certain noncitizens at the land border” on the same day, according to a statement from the White House.
Canada ended its own vaccination requirements for foreign visitors on Oct. 1, 2022.
The U.S., however, has continued to require federal workers, contractors and most international air travellers to show proof of vaccination on entry.
A different phase
On why it decided to lift the rules. the White House said deaths from COVID-19 around the world are at their lowest levels since the start of the pandemic, and 95 per cent lower in the U.S. than they were in January 2021.
“We are in a different phase of our response to COVID-19 than we were when many of these requirements were put into place,'' reads a statement.
The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased its international traveller mandate last week, considering anyone who received a single dose of either a Pfizer or Moderna bivalent vaccine on or after Aug. 16, 2022, as having met the requirement.
Previously, at least two doses of an approved vaccine were required.
Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins praised the news, calling the update "long overdue" as he hopes the move will generate more cross-border travel between the U.S. and Canada.
The U.S. vaccine mandate "kept families apart and impeded economic recovery," Higgins said in a statement.
"This last lifting of pandemic restrictions is certainly welcome news and critically important as we seek opportunities to encourage a robust cross-border exchange that delivers shared prosperity."
With files from The Associated Press.