Mexico City, Mexico — The Biden administration has extended non-essential travel restrictions for the northern and southern borders of the United States until August 21.
The United States has been limiting non-essential travel along both borders since the start of the pandemic, extending these restrictions on a monthly basis. The restrictions do not apply to cross-border trade, US citizens and legal permanent residents or people traveling for education or medical purposes.
In recent weeks, however, the administration has come under fire for continuing to maintain those restrictions, especially after Canada announced its reopening to vaccinated Americans.
The Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, points out that there have been “positive advances in recent weeks,” citing the millions of doses of vaccines administered in the United States, as well as the update of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which moved both Canada and Mexico from the Level 4 (Very High) risk category for covid-19 to Level 3 (High) “in recognition of conditions that, while still requiring important safeguards, are improving.”
Still, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) found that the outbreak and continued transmission and spread of COVID-19 both in the US and globally posed a risk, with the delta variant now accounting for 83 percent of its new cases.
A DHS spokesperson cited concerns about the dangerous delta variant and said the agency is in “constant contact with its Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify conditions under which the restrictions can be safely and sustainably eased.”
The restrictions will remain in effect until August 21, “unless they are amended or rescinded before that date.”
“To decrease the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through August 21, while ensuring the continued flow of essential trade and travel,” DHS wrote. “DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably.”
Regarding Canada, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said that “any decisions about resuming travel will be guided by our public health and medical experts. … I wouldn’t look at it through a reciprocal intention.”