Politics

U.S. to open border to fully vaccinated travellers starting Nov. 8

The United States is set to reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travellers by air, land or passenger ferry starting Nov. 8.

Those travelling by air will still be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test

The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The United States is set to reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travellers by air, land or passenger ferry starting Nov. 8.

Air travellers will need to show proof of vaccination on arrival in the U.S. but will still need to show a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding their flight.

Non-essential travellers crossing at a land border will be required to show proof of vaccination or attest to their vaccination status upon request by a border agent — but unlike air travellers they will face no requirement to show a negative COVID-19 test.

Canada is still requiring all travellers entering the country to provide proof of a negative test, regardless of their point of entry.

By January, essential travellers crossing into the U.S. at a land border will also be required to be fully vaccinated.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Canada is considering following suit with its own policy to require essential workers crossing the border to be fully vaccinated.

"If there is an opportunity, and I believe there is, for fully vaccinated travellers, even among essential travellers, to provide greater assurances ... I think it's something certainly we'll be exploring," Blair told Rosemary Barton in an interview for the CBC's Rosemary Barton Live airing Sunday.

A number of details are still being worked out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). They include the type of documentation that will be accepted to prove a traveller's vaccination status.

The CDC has informed affected airlines that any vaccine approved in the U.S, as well as vaccines that have been approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, will be accepted for air travel.

The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travel since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Canada opened its border to U.S. travellers in early August.

U.S. President Joe Biden and his administration have been under increasing pressure in recent weeks to follow Canada's lead and open the border to non-essential travel.

U.S. will accept Canadians with mixed vaccine doses

After several days of uncertainty, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed late Friday that it will consider people with mixed doses fully vaccinated, as long as the vaccines are authorized by either the Food and Drug Administration or the World Heath Organization.

That means Canadians who received any combination of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines will be allowed to cross the border when it reopens on Nov. 8.

"While CDC has not recommended mixing types of vaccine in a primary series, we recognize that this is increasingly common in other countries so should be accepted for the interpretation of vaccine records," said CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund in an email.

More than 3.9 million Canadians outside Quebec have received doses of two different Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines.

Rep. Brian Higgins — a New York Democrat who has been one of the loudest critics in Washington of the continued border restrictions — had earlier called on the CDC to clarify its position on mixed dosing given that millions of Canadians have received two different vaccines.

"The prospect of millions of Canadian travellers being indefinitely denied access to the United States because they received mixed doses of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is deeply concerning," Higgins said in a statement.

WATCH: Officials say they made the case to U.S. to accept Canadians with mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines 

Tam and Njoo say they are making the case to have U.S. accept Canadians with mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccine

1 month ago
1:58
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, and Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, were asked about the status of their talks with the United States on accepting Canadians with mixed COVID-19 vaccines into their country. The United States is set to reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travellers by air, land or passenger ferry starting Nov. 8. 1:58

Canadian health officials say they have been telling the CDC that mixed doses work and Canadians with two different shots should be considered fully vaccinated.

"It's been a sort of a full court presser, no stone unturned, in terms of our discussions with U.S. officials at all levels," Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo told a press conference Friday.

The existing border restrictions were set to expire on Oct. 21, but will now be extended until the new rules go into effect.

With files from The Canadian Press

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