U.S. extends COVID vaccine requirements for non-citizens at land borders

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States government said on Thursday it was extending a requirement that non-U.S. citizens crossing land or ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders must be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The requirements were first adopted in November as part of reopening the United States to land crossings by foreign tourists after the borders had been closed to most visitors since March 2020. The vaccination requirements had been set to expire on Thursday unless they were extended.

International air travelers over the age of 2 regardless of citizenship must provide a negative test for the virus before arriving and non U.S. citizens must also show proof of vaccination. People traveling at land or ferry crossings do not need to provide a negative test.

There are some limited exceptions to the rules including for those who have recently recovered from COVID-19.

The Homeland Security Department (DHS) said the decision was made after consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC says vaccines are the most effective public health measure to protect people from severe COVID-19 related illness or death.

In January, DHS extended vaccination requirements to foreign essential workers such as truck drivers and nurses crossing U.S. land borders.

Michigan Agri-Business Association President Chuck Lippstreu criticized the DHS for “failure to provide common-sense exemptions to this policy for agricultural truck drivers” and said it “flies in the face of reality on the ground here in Michigan, where our agriculture sector continues facing supply disruptions, increases in cross-border trucking costs and an ongoing driver shortage.”

Major airlines want the government to end COVID-19 pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated international passengers traveling to the United States.

They argue testing requirements are unnecessary and deter Americans from traveling abroad because of testing costs and risks they could be stranded abroad if they test positive.

Britain, France, Canada, Italy and many other countries have dropped pre-departure testing requirements for fully vaccinated visitors.

Source : Reuters

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