The United States will keep its land borders with Mexico and Canada closed for all nonessential travel for at least another month, the Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday, extending their travel restrictions just days after Canadian officials announced they would soon reopen to U.S. travelers.
“To decrease the spread of Covid-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on nonessential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through August 21,” a spokesman for the department said in an email. “D.H.S. is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably.”
The United States closed land borders with its two neighbors in March 2020 as a way to limit the spread of the virus. D.H.S. has renewed the restrictions every month since, in coordination with Canadian and Mexican authorities.
On Monday, Canadian officials said that American travelers could enter the country beginning on Aug. 9, assuming they have been fully inoculated with a vaccine approved by the Canadian government for at least 14 days.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Monday that the United States was “continuing to review our travel restrictions,” but that “any decisions about reopening travel will be guided by our public health and medical experts,” rather than a need for reciprocity.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada said at a news conference on Tuesday that he thought that it was up to individual countries to decide their own border restrictions.
“Every country gets to set its own rules about how it will keep its citizens safe,” Mr. Trudeau said.
Nonessential travel restrictions to Canada and Mexico do not apply to air, freight rail or sea, and traveling by land is still allowed for many reasons, including business, medical purposes and education. All international air travelers into the United States have to present a negative coronavirus test taken within three days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within 90 days.
Canada made the decision to reopen based on its vaccination progress — more than three quarters of the country had received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to Canadian governmental data, a far higher percentage than the United States, where a little more than 56 percent of the population has received at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Residents on both sides of the border have pressed for reopening, as have U.S. politicians from both parties.
Brian Higgins, a congressman who represents a district in Western New York that borders Canada, said in a statement on Wednesday that “today’s decision by the Biden administration harms economic recovery and hurts families all across America’s northern border; this is completely unnecessary.”
Mexican officials had recently expressed hope that the United States would agree to open up their shared border. A vaccination program in northern Mexico was ramped up as well. “We are working on this, so that the economic and social activity of the border can be regularized as soon as possible,” Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, told Forbes Mexico this month.
American citizens can travel into Mexico for any reason — to buy cheaper goods, access cheaper health care or because they live in Mexico and commute to work in the U.S. — but the border shutdown has meant many businesses have lost customers and been forced to close.