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U.S. to open land and ferry border crossings next month

People who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will be allowed to enter the U.S. by land and ferry ports from Canada and Mexico beginning in November. 

The announcement was made by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Oct. 12. Travelers will be required to have paperwork that proves they are vaccinated, and those who have not been fully vaccinated will not be allowed to travel for non-essential reasons. 

Also beginning in early January, all non-U.S. citizens will be required to be fully vaccinated, including those entering the country on essential business. 

“Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner,” Mayorkas said in a press release

The decision was supported by Gov. Jay Inslee, who issued a statement today. In it, he said Washingtonians have been ready to welcome back Canadians traveling by land, and that the decision to reopen the state’s northern border should have happened sooner. 

“The local economies of border communities in Washington and other states are connected to our friends across the border, and their recovery from the pandemic has been delayed by the border closure,” Inslee said. 

The decision was also supported by the National Governors Association. In June, several governors, including Inslee, sent a letter to the federal government asking them to reopen the U.S.-Canada border. 

“Tuesday’s announcement is welcome news and a critical step in easing the economic impact on our communities due to COVID-19,” the Association wrote in an email statement on Wednesday. 

The border closure has been particularly hard on communities lying near the border. One U.S. community, Point Roberts, sits on the end of a Canadian peninsula in the north end of the Salish Sea. The crossing between Point Roberts and Canada saw roughly 1.5 million crossings in both 2018 and 2019, a number which dropped to just 100,000 in 2021, the Vancouver Sun reported

These hardships, among others, were addressed by Rep. Derek Kilmer in a statement. 

“Having grown up in Port Angeles, I’ve seen firsthand how important tourism is to our local economy,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, many of our local businesses have had to struggle this year, particularly with ferry travel to and from Canada being shut down. That’s why for months I’ve been pushing to get the U.S.-Canada border re-opened.” 

The move to reopen the borders was also supported by Rep. Suzan DelBene, who posted the following statement on Twitter.

“This announcement is long overdue. After many months of hardship, reopening the northern border to our Canadian neighbors will begin to allow our border communities, especially Point Roberts, to build back better from this crisis,” DelBene said.

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