While Canada has just announced plans to welcome fully vaccinated U.S. travellers as of August 9, the United States will maintain a temporary ban on non-essential travel from Canada to the U.S. at land ports of entry along the Canada-U.S. border until August 21.
READ MORE - Ottawa eases border measures for fully vaccinated travellers
"These restrictions take effect at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on July 22, 2021, and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 21, 2021," the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notice states.
The document is scheduled to be released tomorrow (July 22) but is already available for review through the Federal Register.
"A specific threat to human life or national interests"
Signed by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the document explains that DHS continues to monitor and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Given the outbreak and continued transmission and spread of COVID-19 in the United States and globally, the Secretary has determined that the risk of continued transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID-19 between the United States and Canada constitutes a 'specific threat to human life or national interests,'" it states.
It adds that given the sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus and the risks posed by new variants, a return to previous levels of travel between the two countries puts personnel at land ports of entry between the U.S. and Canada, as well as people traveling through those ports of entry, at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19-associated virus.
"As a result...I have decided that land ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada border will continue to suspend normal operations and will only allow the processing of applications for entry into the United States for travelers on 'essential travel,'" says Minister Mayorkas.
Possible changes by August 21
Mayorkas says his decision - which does not apply to air travel, it should be noted - could be modified or rescinded by Aug. 21, depending on the circumstances.
"In the meantime, as part of an integrated U.S. government effort and guided by the objective analysis and recommendations of public health and medical experts, DHS is working closely with its counterparts in Mexico and Canada to identify conditions under which the restrictions can be relaxed in a safe and sustainable manner," he concludes.
Wendy Paradis, President of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) expressed that ACTA is disappointed that the United States has decided to continue its land border closure until August 21, even to fully vaccinated Canadians.
“American leaders across political parties have called for months for Canada to open its border. And yet, despite Canadians having a higher vaccination rate and substantially lower transmission of COVID-19, they have refused to reciprocate and follow a science-based plan to safely open their border and support traveller mobility and an ailing travel and tourism sector, “ Paradis says.
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