Pilot project at Canada U.S. border crossing offers hope for stalled Nexus program

At long last: U.S. says it will open its side of the Canada-U.S. land border in early November

TORONTO — When the U.S. announced on Sept. 20 that it would welcome back fully vaccinated foreign nationals arriving in the country by air starting in November, hopes were high – but there were no guarantees – that November would also mark the reopening of the U.S.-Canada land border to fully vaccinated Canadians.

Those hopes have been realized with news from the Biden administration that the U.S. side of the land border with Canada will reopen to fully vaccinated travellers early next month.

The announcement was embargoed until today, however New York congressman Brian Higgins, who for months has advocated for the reopening of the land border, broke the news last night. Provided travellers crossing the U.S. land border are fully vaccinated, there will be no additional requirements in terms of pre-arrival testing.

Canada reopened its side of the Canada-U.S. land border months ago, on Aug. 9.

Today’s border update comes with a caveat, as travel news during the pandemic so often does. While the U.S. indicated last week that it will now accept all vaccines approved by the WHO as well as the FDA – meaning AstraZeneca is now okay – there’s still no word on acceptance of mixed doses. Close to 4 million Canadians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have mixed doses (Pfizer, Moderna and/or AstraZeneca). According to reports, the CDC is currently reviewing the mixed doses situation.

Many families with young kids, a sizable market for the U.S., will also be waiting to hear whether unvaccinated children under the age of 12 can cross the land border without restrictions. So far indications from the Sept. 20 announcement about fully vaccinated foreign nationals suggest that exemptions will be made for young kids who don’t yet have access to vaccinations.

In both Canada and the U.S. Pfizer is currently seeking authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5 – 11.

Plus, of course, there’s still the biggest caveat of all – the Canadian government’s advisory against all non-essential travel, in place now for more than a year and a half.

In recent weeks ACTAACITA and other travel industry execs have stepped up calls for a more country-specific risk-based travel advisory.