Fully vaccinated Canadians will be allowed to enter the United States at land and ferry border crossings starting in early November.
Senior U.S. officials announced Tuesday night a plan to begin reopening the land borders with Canada and Mexico, which have been closed for non-essential travel since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
An exact date for the reopening has not yet been determined, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters earlier about the plan during a conference call.
They said a number of details are still being worked out, including the type of documentation that will be accepted to prove a traveller’s vaccination status.
The U.S. is also awaiting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about travellers who received mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines or the AstraZeneca vaccine. The U.S. has not approved the mixing of vaccine doses or the AstraZeneca vaccine for its own residents.
However, an official on the call noted that the CDC plans to recommend the acceptance of air travellers who have been inoculated with any vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, which includes AstraZeneca. The official said a similar rule should be expected at land crossings.
Tuesday night’s announcement about the reopening came shortly after Rep. Brian Higgins — a New York Democrat who has been one of the loudest critics in Washington of the continued border restrictions — broke the news in a written statement.
“The sigh of relief coming from northern border communities following this announcement is so loud it can practically be heard on either end of the Peace Bridge,” Higgins said in the statement, referring to the span that connects Buffalo, N.Y., to Fort Erie, Ont., and one of the busiest bridges between the two countries.
Canadians to be asked about vaccination status
A short time later, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas released a statement outlining the reopening plan.
Mayorkas noted that cross-border traffic between Canada and the U.S. generates significant economic activity between border communities.
“We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner,” he said.
According to U.S. officials, Canadians crossing the border will be questioned about their vaccination status by border agents.
Proof of vaccination will only be required if a traveller is sent for secondary screening, the government officials said on the call.
If a traveller is fully vaccinated, there will be no requirement for them to show a negative COVID-19 test.
When the updated rules go into effect, the U.S. will also ease other travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air.
The updated rules mean Canadian and U.S. citizens will soon face essentially the same rules when crossing the border after months of disproportionate measures at the world’s longest international border.
The Canadian government in August reopened its border to fully vaccinated U.S. travellers, which raised repeated questions about why the U.S. did not make the same change.
The U.S. rules have also been described as inconsistent, since Canadians have been allowed to enter the U.S. by air, even for non-essential purposes, for most of the pandemic.
The government officials said the updated regulations reflect the growing uptake in vaccinations across North America.
They noted that nearly 263 million people in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are now fully vaccinated.
Essential workers crossing the land border, such as truckers, will also face a new vaccine mandate starting sometime in January 2022.
The officials said they are waiting to implement that change, which they referred to as the second phase of the border reopening, so that essential workers are given adequate time to get fully vaccinated.
The existing border restrictions were set to expire on Oct. 21, but will now be extended until the new rules go into effect.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, and said Americans can choose a shot that is different than their original inoculation.
The decision paves the way for millions more people in the United States to get the additional protection with the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus causing breakthrough infections among some who are fully vaccinated.
The agency previously authorized boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months after the first round of shots to increase protection for people aged 65 and older, those at risk of severe disease and those who are exposed to the virus through their work.
Last week, an advisory panel to the FDA voted to recommend a third round of shots of the Moderna vaccine for the same groups.
The panel also recommended a second shot of the J&J vaccine for all recipients of the one-dose inoculation at least two months after receiving their first.
The FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were under some pressure to authorize the additional shots after the White House announced plans in August for a widespread booster campaign.
The advisory panel meeting included a presentation of data on mixing vaccines from a U.S. National Institutes of Health study in which 458 participants received some combination of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and J&J shots.
The data showed that people who initially got J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine had a stronger immune response when boosted with either the Pfizer or Moderna shot, and that “mixing and matching” booster shots of different types was safe in adults.
Many countries including Canada and the U.K. have backed mix-and-match strategies for the widely-used AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which is not authorized in the United States but is based on similar viral vector technology as J&J’s vaccine.
Reuters reported in June that infectious disease experts were weighing the need for booster shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after the J&J shot.
A CDC advisory committee on Thursday will make its recommendations about which groups of people should get the Moderna and J&J boosters, which the agency’s director will use to inform her final decision.
About 11.2 million people have so far received a booster dose, according to data from the CDC.
What’s happening in Canada
- Pandemic restriction opponents line up behind Manitoba PC leadership hopeful.
- Some unvaccinated municipal workers in northeastern Ontario sent home.
- N.L. sees 9 cases as officials make tweaks to fix vaccine passport issues.
What’s happening around the world
As of Wednesday, more than 241.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to the latest figures posted by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million, according to the U.S-based university’s coronavirus tracker.
In Europe, Russia will shut workplaces for a week, Latvia went back into lockdown for a month and Romanian funeral homes are running out of coffins, as vaccine-skeptic ex-communist countries face record highs of infections and deaths.
In Africa, Kenya lifted a nationwide curfew on Wednesday that has been in place since March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In the Americas, 41 per cent of people across Latin America and the Caribbean have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Pan American Health Organization said.
In Asia, China reported a fourth day of new, locally transmitted cases in a handful of cities across the country, spurring local governments to double down on efforts to track potential carriers amid the zero-tolerance policy.
N.Korea says U.S. overreacting over submarine missile test
This week’s test of a new ballistic missile from a submarine was part of North Korea’s mid- and long-term plan to bolster self defense and was and not aimed at the United States or any other country, an unnamed spokesperson at Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said, according to the official KCNA news agency.
Washington had taken “overly provocative moves” by calling the test a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a threat to regional peace and stability, the spokesperson said.
The Security Council met on Wednesday over the launch at the request of the United States and Britain, and the U.S. envoy urged Pyongyang to accept offers of talks, reiterating that Washington has no hostile intent toward it.
The foreign ministry spokesperson said the United States’ “double standards” over missile development cast doubt over its overtures.
“It is a clear double standard that the United States denounces us for developing and testing the same weapons system it already has or was developing, and that only adds suspicions to their sincerity after saying they have no hostility towards us,” the spokesperson said in a statement carried by KCNA.
The United States and the council could face “more grave and serious consequences” if they opted for wrong behaviour, the spokesperson said, warning against “fiddling with a time bomb.”
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; editing by Richard Pullin)
Britain in talks to sell missiles in arms deal with Ukraine -The Times
The UK government is in talks with Ukraine to sell it missiles for the first time in an arms deal, the Times reported on Wednesday.
Under the plans, the Ministry of Defence would provide surface-to surface and air-to-surface missiles to Ukraine, the newspaper added.
(Reporting by Nishit Jogi in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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