Effective Jan. 22, all essential and non-essential travelers to the U.S. must provide evidence of fully vaccinated status, regardless of whether they enter at land, sea, or airports, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Jan. 20.
The restrictions, which were already in place for non-citizen travelers entering at airports as announced in October of 2021, are being updated in cooperation with the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to match with those that govern incoming travel through land ports or ferry terminals, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a Jan. 20 press release.
“Beginning on January 22, 2022, DHS will require non-U.S. individuals seeking to enter the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination,” the agency announced.
Both essential and non-essential visitors who are not U.S. citizens will be affected by the new regulations. Excluded are U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, and U.S. nationals.
“These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy,” Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas added, according to the statement.
The borders had been shut to non-essential travelers for 20 months over Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) fears, but were opened to non-essential visitors, provided they had accepted vaccination, on Nov. 8, 2021.
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Essential workers, such as truck drivers and medical personnel crossing the border by land, were exempt from showing a vaccine passport until the new changes came into effect.
Foreigners arriving at the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals must be willing to both verbally attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status and provide proof of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccination.
Furthermore, travelers from abroad will also be required to present a valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document such as a valid passport or any other document if requested by a U.S. Border official.
Supply chain concerns
An increasing number of trade organizations have warned the continuous stepping up of COVID-19 security measures will hamper already strained supply chains.
Mandatory vaccination and the walkout of highly qualified but unvaccinated personnel, such as truck drivers and medical personnel coming from abroad, have increasingly created the conditions for an even deeper economic crisis and more social unrest.
So much so that the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association sounded the alarm in a Jan. 20 letter to the DHS pressing the CDC to rebuke its COVID-19 vaccination order for “essential” travelers coming into the United States, LBM Journal reported.
Another association, the American Building Materials Alliance (ABMA), also sent a letter to Secretary Mayorkas delineating grave worries regarding the vaccine mandate for incoming foreign truck drivers traversing the U.S.-Canada border.
According to the letter, mandates jeopardize persistent economic recovery steps, slow the supply chain, fan inflation, and create a loss of qualified personnel.