The United States will keep its land borders with Mexico and Canada closed for all non-essential travel for at least a month, the Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday, extending its travel restrictions just days after Canadian authorities announced they would soon reopen to American travelers.
To reduce the spread of Covid-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel to our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico until August 21, a door said. -speak of the department in an e-mail. DHS is in constant contact with its Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions can be relaxed in a safe and sustainable manner.
The United States closed its land borders with its two neighbors in March 2020 in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus. DHS has renewed the restrictions every month since, in coordination with Canadian and Mexican authorities.
On Monday, Canadian officials said American travelers could enter the country from August 9, assuming they have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the Canadian government for at least 14 days.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday afternoon that we rely on the advice of our health and medical experts, not the actions of others. countries to determine border security policy.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press conference Tuesday that he believes it is up to each country to decide on its own border restrictions.
Each country can set its own rules for how it will keep its citizens safe, Trudeau said.
Non-essential travel restrictions to Canada and Mexico do not apply to air, freight rail, or sea travel, and overland travel is still permitted for many reasons, including business, medical, and educational purposes. . All international air travelers to the United States must present a negative coronavirus test performed within three days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within 90 days.
Canada made the decision to reopen based on the progress of its vaccination, more than three-quarters of the country had received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to Canadian government data, a much higher percentage than the United States, where just over 56 percent of the population received at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Residents on both sides of the border lobbied for the reopening and more than 2,800 people joined a private Facebook group organized by Let Us Reunite, an advocacy group, to push for a more border policy. relaxed.
One of the group members is Heather Kienle, an American citizen who lives in Montreal. Crossing the border has not been a problem for Ms. Kienle, but her Canadian husband, Etienne Bouchard, cannot.
For example, Mrs. Kienle, who is six months pregnant, often drives alone or with her four-year-old daughter for over eight hours in West Babylon, NY, to care for her mother, who has endometrial cancer.
It was just very stressful because I had to travel alone, without my husband, and I had to take care of my daughter in the back seat, Ms Kienle said on Wednesday.
US politicians on both sides also opposed the restrictions.
Brian Higgins, a congressman who represents a district in western New York that borders Canada, said in a statement Wednesday that today’s decision by the Biden administration is hurting economic recovery and hurting economic recovery. families from across the northern border of the Americas; it is completely unnecessary.
Mexican authorities had recently expressed hope that the United States would agree to open its common border. A vaccination program in northern Mexico has also been stepped up. We are working on it, so that the economic and social activity of the border can be regularized as soon as possible, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told Forbes Mexico this month.
U.S. citizens can travel to Mexico for any reason to buy cheaper goods, access cheaper health care, or because they live in Mexico and commute to work in the United States, but the shutdown border crossing has resulted in many businesses losing customers and being forced to close.
Also on Wednesday, President Biden appointed David L. Cohen, lobbyist and senior advisor to the CEO of Comcast Corporation, as ambassador to Canada. Mr Biden has tried to be diverse in terms of the types of people he appoints to senior positions overseas, but Mr Cohen represents the old model of rewarding campaign donors with coveted positions. abroad.
A Democratic fundraiser, Mr Cohen hosted Mr Bidens’ first official presidential event at his home in 2019 and helped him raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mr. Cohen also served for a long time as chairman of the board of the University of Pennsylvania, an institution that hired Mr. Biden for a lucrative academic position after the Obama administration.
Annie Karni contributed reporting.
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