AFP reports the official revealed the Biden administration would give the “precise date very soon” — both for land crossings as well as expanded international air travel, which would be co-launched.
U.S. borders were shut in March 2020 to travelers coming from the European Union, Britain and China, with India and Brazil added to the list later. Overland visitors from Mexico and Canada were also banned as the country took stock of the growing threat of the coronavirus.
Currently, most non-US citizens who have been to the UK, China, India, South Africa, Iran, Brazil and a number of European countries within the past 14 days are not allowed into the US. The White House source told AFP the land border reopening would happen in two phases.
The changes will only apply to legal land crossings into the country, the official noted, as tens of thousands of illegal border crossers have been freely entering the country since the Biden administration took office, as Breitbart News reported.
A controversial law which allows the US to swiftly expel undocumented migrants to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in holding facilities will stay in place, US media reports. The border legislation, known as Title 42, has cut off access to asylum for hundreds of thousands of migrants trying to enter from Mexico.
Initially, vaccines will be required for “non-essential” trips — such as family visits and tourism — though unvaccinated travelers will still be allowed into the country for “essential” trips as they have been for the entirety of the last year and a half.
According to the officials, those entering the U.S. by vehicle, rail and ferry will be questioned about their vaccination status as part of the standard U.S. Customs and Border Protection admissions process. At officers’ discretion, travelers will have their proof of vaccination verified in a secondary screening process.
A second phase beginning in “early January” 2022 will require all visitors to the United States to be fully vaccinated, no matter the reason for their trip, the report outlined.
“This phased approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers or others to get vaccinated, enabling a smooth transition to the new system,” the official stated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week all vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) would be accepted for entry by air, the official pointed out.
“While the CDC hasn’t made a final determination here, I anticipate that that would be the same for land travel as well,” the official said, explaining that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not administered in the United States, would be accepted.