U.S extends travel restrictions at Canada, Mexico land borders through Aug. 21

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least Aug. 21, the U.S. Homeland Security Department said on Wednesday.

The 30-day extension came after Canada announced Monday it will start allowing fully-vaccinated U.S. visitors into the country on Aug. 9 for non-essential travel after the COVID-19 pandemic forced an unprecedented 16-month ban that many businesses complained was crippling them.

One difficult question for the Biden administration is whether it would follow Canada’s lead and require all visitors to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before entering the United States, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The White House plans a new round of high-level meetings to discuss the travel restrictions and the potential of mandating COVID-19 vaccines, but no decisions have been made, the sources said.

In early June, the White House launched interagency working groups with the European Union, Britain, Canada, and Mexico to look at how to eventually to lift restrictions.

Businesses in Canada and the United States, particularly the travel and airline industries, pushed for an end to restrictions on non-essential travel between the two countries, which were imposed in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.

Since then, the land border has been closed to all non-essential travel. However, the United States has allowed Canadians to fly in, while Canada has not allowed Americans to do the same.

The United States has continued to extend the restrictions on Canada and Mexico on a monthly basis since March 2020.

Airlines and others have urged the administration to lift restrictions covering most non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in Britain, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Canada to ease border measures, welcome vaccinated U.S. tourists next month

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada will start allowing fully-vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into the country on Aug. 9 for non-essential travel as the threat from the COVID-19 pandemic fades, Ottawa said on Monday.

Businesses on both sides of the border, particularly the travel and airline industries, are demanding an end to restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States which were first imposed in March 2020.

Fully-vaccinated visitors from countries other than the United States will be permitted to enter beginning on Sept. 7. The relaxation depends on Canada’s COVID-19 epidemiology remaining favorable, the government said in a statement.

“Thanks to the hard work of Canadians, rising vaccination rates and declining COVID-19 cases, the government … is able to move forward with adjusted border measures,” it said.

People eligible to enter Canada must have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days beforehand. From Aug. 9, Ottawa is also lifting the requirement that all travelers arriving by air must spend three nights in a hotel.

The government repeated that Canadians should avoid non-essential travel abroad.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Steve SchererEditing by Paul Simao)

Businesses fret as Canada extends ban on travel with U.S

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada is extending a ban on non-essential travel with the United States and the rest of the world until July 21, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said on Friday, prompting frustration from businesses worried about the economic damage.

Canada’s Liberal government is under increasing pressure from businesses and the tourism industry to ease the ban, which was first imposed in March 2020 to help contain spread of the coronavirus and has been renewed on a monthly basis ever since.

“In coordination with the U.S., we are extending restrictions on non-essential international travel and with the United States until July 21st, 2021,” Blair said on Twitter.

Ottawa will reveal on June 21 how it plans to start lifting the measures for fully vaccinated Canadians and others who are currently permitted to enter Canada, he added.

Although the ban does not affect trade in goods, it is hitting travel operators and the export of services.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce – a national group that advocates for businesses – lamented what it said was Ottawa’s sluggishness, especially as around 75% of Canada’s population had already had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

“I’m disappointed … all of the science would say we should be moving ahead to reopen the border. We don’t even have a plan at this point,” said Perrin Beatty, the group’s president and chief executive.

“Unfortunately, Canada is the proverbial deer caught in the headlights … we are the world leader in terms of first shots and we are a world laggard when it comes to having a strategy,” he said in a phone interview.

The United States is Canada’s largest trading partner.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu last week said the federal government was preparing to lift quarantine protocols for citizens who had received their second dose of a vaccine.

The U.S. government has created working groups with both Mexico and Canada to discuss the restrictions. The groups held their initial meetings this week, sources told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington;Editing by Bill Berkrot and Paul Simao)

U.S. extends travel restrictions at land borders with Canada, Mexico through March 21

By David Shepardson and Ted Hesson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least March 21, the one-year anniversary of the restrictions to address COVID-19 transmission concerns, the U.S. government said Friday.

The new 30-day extension is the first announced under President Joe Biden and comes as the White House has been holding meetings about potentially tightening requirements for crossing at U.S. land borders in North America, officials said.

Canada has shown little interest in lifting the restrictions and recently imposed new COVID-19 testing requirements for some Canadians returning by land crossings.

On Jan. 26, the U.S. government began requiring nearly all international air travelers to get negative COVID-19 test results within three days of travel, but has no similar requirements for land border crossings.

In an executive order issued last month, Biden directed U.S. officials to “immediately commence diplomatic outreach to the governments of Canada and Mexico regarding public health protocols for land ports of entry.”

It added U.S. agencies should submit a plan to Biden within 14 days “to implement appropriate public health measures at land ports of entry.”

“The plan should implement CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, consistent with applicable law, and take into account the operational considerations relevant to the different populations who enter the United States by land,” it said.

Biden also directed a similar review of sea travel and to “implement appropriate public health measures at sea ports.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Ted Hesson, Editing by Franklin Paul and Bill Berkrot)

Canada PM Trudeau indicates U.S. border restrictions to last a long time

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada will not agree to lifting a ban on non-essential travel with the United States until the coronavirus outbreak is significantly under control around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.

Trudeau’s comments were a clear indication that the border restrictions will last well into 2021. The two neighbors agreed to the ban in March and have rolled it over on a monthly basis ever since.

The ban does not affect trade. The two countries have highly integrated economies and Canada sends 75% of its goods exports to the United States every month.

“Until the virus is significantly more under control everywhere around the world, we’re not going to be releasing the restrictions at the border,” Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. when asked about the issue.

“We are incredibly lucky that trade in essential goods, in agricultural products, in pharmaceuticals is flowing back and forth as it always has. It’s just not people traveling, which I think is the important thing,” he said.

The restrictions are opposed by the travel industry, which says they are suffering as tourist flows dry up.

But the premiers of Canada’s major provinces have repeatedly said they have no interest in reopening the border as long as cases of COVID-19 continue to escalate in the United States.

A second wave is also sweeping across Canada, where authorities are starting to reimpose restrictions on businesses and limiting the size of gatherings.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

U.S. extends non-essential travel restrictions with Canada, Mexico

By Mica Rosenberg and Frank Jack Daniel

NEW YORK/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The Trump administration said on Tuesday it would extend existing restrictions on non-essential travel at land ports of entry with Canada and Mexico due to continued risks from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“This extension protects Americans while keeping essential trade and travel flowing as we reopen the American economy,” U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement, without specifying an end date to the extension.

The travel restrictions had already been extended several times and were set to expire on June 23, according to a related U.S. government notice. A DHS official said the latest extension would run for 30 days.

Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a tweet on Tuesday that the travel restrictions across the country’s border with the United States would continue for 30 days.

The United States said it was in “close contact” with both countries on its northern and southern borders about the restrictions, which were first imposed in mid-March. The Trump administration had already extended indefinitely a separate set of pandemic-related rules that permit rapid deportation of migrants caught at U.S. borders.

Separately, the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday said in a statement it was again postponing hearings for thousands of migrants who have been waiting in Mexico for U.S. immigration court hearings.

The Justice Department, which runs the immigration court system, said the hearings for those in the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols program would be on hold until July 20.

“This will alleviate the need for travel within Mexico to a U.S. port of entry while pandemic conditions in Mexico remain severe,” the Justice Department said. The controversial program has stranded migrants – many of them seeking asylum in the United States – in Mexico for months.

Hundreds have been living in squalid tent camps near the U.S.-Mexico border, which health experts and immigration advocates have said leaves them vulnerable to coronavirus infections.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York and Frank Jack Daniel in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington D.C.; Editing by Paul Simao and Steve Orlofsky)