Gulf Today

US extends Canada, Mexico travel curbs

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WASHINGTON: The US government on Wednesday extended the closure of land borders with Canada and Mexico to non-essential travel such as tourism through Aug.21 even as officials debate whether to require visitors to have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The latest 30-day extension by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) came ater Canada announced on Monday it will start allowing in fully vaccinated US visitors on Aug.9 for non-essential travelater­thecovid-19pandemic­forceda16-month ban that many businesses have called crippling.

DHS said on Wednesday it “is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterpar­ts to identify the conditions under which restrictio­ns may be eased safely and sustainabl­y.”

One difficult question for President Joe Biden’s administra­tion is whether to follow Canada’s lead and require all visitors to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before entering the United States, sources briefed on the mater said.

The White House plans a new round of high-level meetings this week to discuss the travel restrictio­ns and the potential of mandating COVID-19 vaccines for visitors, but no decisions have been made, the sources said.

The review comes amid increasing concern among US officials about the Delta variant. US health officials have reported sizable increases in Covid-19casesand­deaths,withoutbre­aksoccurri­ng in parts of the country with low vaccinatio­n rates.

Thewhiteho­uselastmon­thlaunched­interagenc­y working groups with the European Union, Britain, Canada and Mexico to look at how to eventually to lit travel and border restrictio­ns.

Businesses in Canada and the United States, particular­ly the travel and airline industries, have pushed for an end to restrictio­ns on non-essential travel between the two countries, which were imposed in March 2020 early in the pandemic.

Since then, the land border has remained closed to all non-essential travel. The United States has allowed Canadians to fly in, though they must first receive a negative COVID-19 test, as do nearly all Us-bound internatio­nal air travelers. Canada has not allowed Americans to do the same. Unlike internatio­nal air passengers, travelers crossing US land borders do not need negative COVID-19 tests.

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