U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is expected to announce plans to open its land borders in Canada and Mexico for legal travel among fully vaccinated individuals on Wednesday (October 13).
NBC News reports nonessential travelers, including individuals entering the U.S. for tourism or visiting family members, will be required to show proof of COVID vaccination to Customs and Border Protection officers when the cross land borders beginning in November.
The U.S. has already announced a similar policy for air travelers from other countries needing to show proof of vaccination when entering America.
Essential travelers who cross the U.S. land borders, such as truck drivers, will be required to prove they are fully vaccinated when crossing land borders beginning at the start of 2022.
Officials said the delay in the new policy is an effort to allow essential workers more time to get vaccinated without disrupting trade leading up to the scheduled change.
Only "essential travel" has been allowed across the Canadian and Mexican borders since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, which has kept numerous family members away from loved ones.
Essential travel has, however, previously been allowed without a need of providing vaccination status.
“We understand how valuable the cross-border travel from Canada and Mexico is to the economic activity in border communities and to our broader economy. We also know how meaningful the ability to travel is to maintaining the personal ties to people living on either side of the northern and southern U.S. borders who are often effectively members of one community,” one of the officials said via NBC News.
The Department of Homeland Security is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine how documentation will confirm vaccination status as it has yet to schedule specific start dates for the policies set to begin in November and January.
The new policy will not apply to undocumented immigrants, including the nearly 30,000 Haitians seeking refuge who arrived at the U.S. border in Del Rio, Texas in September.