U.S. Declines to Lift Existing Border Closures and Travel Bans Due to Delta Variant of COVID-19

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to ravage the United States, the federal government continues to take steps to restrict non-essential travel. Although reopening non-essential travel without restrictions would assist the tourism and hospitality industries, the highly transmissible Delta variant is making that goal more and more difficult. Here’s an update on the most recent travel restrictions and border closures.

Land Border Closures with Canada and Mexico

According to a recent Reuters article, the U.S. government has extended existing land border closures with Canada and Mexico to non-essential travel at least through September 21, 2021. These land border closures have been in place since March 2020. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended these closures monthly since that time. However, the land border restrictions do not prohibit U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents from returning to the United States from Mexico or Canada.

Likewise, foreign nationals traveling from Canada or Mexico to the U.S. for essential reasons, such as medical care or employment, can continue to cross the land borders. Canadians also can fly into the U.S. upon a showing of a negative COVID test.

This development comes even as Canada opted to open its borders to fully vaccinated Americans on August 9, 2021. Americans must be able to show proof that at least 14 days have elapsed from their second vaccination. However, even fully vaccinated travelers will be subject to pre-entry COVID tests, and vaccinations must be from vendors approved by the Canadian government. The Canadian government has expressed its displeasure with the U.S. government’s decision to keep the land borders closed.

International Travel Restrictions

Currently, the U.S. bars some immigrants in various visa categories who have been within the following countries within the last 14 days, unless they qualify for a National Interest Exemption:

  • The United Kingdom
  • The 26 Schengen Agreement countries in Europe with no border controls
  • Ireland
  • China
  • India
  • South Africa
  • Iran
  • Brazil

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recently announced that as of October 1, 2021, all green card applicants must have a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of admissibility to the country, unless one of a few limited exemptions apply.

Local Restrictions on Travel Within in the U.S.

You should continue to be aware of local travel restrictions and mask mandates as you travel throughout the United States. These restrictions vary widely from one state to the next and are changing rapidly. Most notably, New York City is the first major U.S. city to require that people be fully vaccinated to enter specific indoor settings, including restaurants, public concerts, performances, and gyms.

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