On Monday, the US lifted travel restrictions from a long list of countries, including Mexico, Canada and much of Europe, allowing tourists to make long-delayed travel and family members to reconnect with loved ones after more than a year and a half due to the pandemic.
The U.S. is accepting fully vaccinated travelers at airports and land borders since Monday, lifting the Trump administration’s COVID-19 cap. The new rules allow air travel from countries that were previously restricted, provided the traveler has proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. Traveling overland from Mexico and Canada will require proof of vaccination, but not a test.
Airlines are waiting for more travelers from Europe and other countries. Data from travel and research firm Cirium showed that airlines increased their flights between the United Kingdom and the United States this month by 21% from the previous month.
The change will have a profound impact on the borders with Mexico and Canada, where round-trip travel was a way of life until the pandemic broke out and the US closed non-essential travel.
High street malls, restaurants and shops in US border cities are devastated due to the lack of visitors from Mexico. On the border with Canada, cross-border hockey rivalries were a social tradition until the pandemic turned them around. The churches, whose members were on both sides of the border, hope to welcome parishioners they did not see during the COVID-19 closure.
Loved ones have missed holidays, birthdays and funerals while non-essential air travel has been banned and they now want to be reunited.
American partner River Robinson was unable to travel to Canada due to the birth of a son 17 months ago due to border closures due to the pandemic. She was thrilled to learn that the US was reopening its overland crossings to vaccinated travelers.
“I am planning to pick up my baby for Thanksgiving in America,” said Robinson, who lives in St. Thomas, Ontario. “If everything goes smoothly at the border, I plan to shoot him down as often as possible. It’s crazy to think that he has a completely different side of the family that he hasn’t even met yet. ”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those used in the US. This means that the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted.
For air passengers, airlines are required to check vaccine records and compare them with IDs, and if they don’t, they could face fines of up to nearly $ 35,000 for a violation. Airlines will also collect passenger information for contact tracing. CDC staff will randomly screen travelers for U.S. compliance. At land borders, customs and border officials will check vaccines.
The move comes as the U.S. COVID-19 outlook has sharply improved in recent weeks following a sharp jump in the summer delta that has pushed hospitals in many places to the brink.
Rob Gillis from Toronto contributed to this report.