Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday July 22, 2021
U.S. border to remain closed until at least Aug. 21
The U.S. land border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least Aug. 21, according to a renewal order issued by the American government Wednesday.
In a notice pre-published in the U.S. Federal Register, the U.S. government says that while vaccination rates have improved, opening the land border to non-essential travel still poses too great a risk.
“Given the outbreak and continued transmission and spread of COVID-19 within the United States and globally, the Secretary has determined that the risk of continued transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID-19 between the United States and Canada poses an ongoing specific threat to human life or national interests,” says the U.S. government notice.
The new order expires one minute before midnight on Aug. 21.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement that offered little additional explanation.
“To decrease the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through August 21, while ensuring the continued flow of essential trade and travel,” wrote DHS spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández.
“DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was also tight-lipped.
“We rely on the guidance of our health and medical experts, not on the actions of other countries,” Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Cincinnati.
“We created these working groups so we can have an open line of communication, discussion on what the criteria look like, what measures needed to be met. Those are ongoing and of course, we continue to be briefed internally as well.”
The American order comes only a few days after the Canadian government announced its land border would open to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens on Aug. 9 and to fully vaccinated travellers from other countries on Sept. 7.
Speaking to reporters today, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he has been working closely with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who informed him of the U.S. government’s plan to keep its land border closed to non-essential travel.
“There are a number of considerations that I know that the American government is currently undertaking with respect to their borders and that work will continue,” he said.
Blair said the U.S. policy doesn’t affect Canada’s decision to open its border next month.
“Our responsibility, of course, is to look after the best interests of Canadians and to follow the advice of our public health officials,” he said. “That’s precisely what we have done.” (CBC)