WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security is extending restrictions on nonessential travel across the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico through Aug. 21 in a continued effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The restrictions, which were originally put in place in March 2020 and extended several times since, apply to “non-essential travel” across the borders. American citizens, lawful permanent residents and people traveling for medical purposes, school or work are exempt from the restrictions.
The latest extension was announced in notices scheduled to be published Thursday in the Federal Register. Officials said closing the borders to non-essential travel is necessary because such trips pose “additional risk of transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID-19 and places the populace of both nations at risk of contracting the virus.”
“This Notification may be amended or rescinded prior to that time, based on circumstances associated with the specific threat,” officials said in the notices. “Meanwhile, as part of an integrated U.S. government effort and guided by the objective analysis and recommendations of public health and medical experts, DHS is working loosely with counterparts in Mexico and Canada to identify conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably.”
The restrictions are scheduled to expire at 11:59 p.m. EDT Aug. 21, “unless amended or rescinded prior to that time.”
On Monday, Canadian officials announced plans to reopen its borders to fully-vaccinated Americans beginning Aug. 9. Authorities hope to further reopen to all fully vaccinated travelers in September.
As of July 10, the last date for which data was available, about 68% of Canadians, or 26.1 million people, had received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose, according to government figures. About 43% of the country’s residents – 16.6 million people – have so far been fully vaccinated.
Officials in Mexico have administered at least 55.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses thus far, although it was not immediately clear how many of those were first doses or how many people were fully vaccinated in the country, Reuters reported.
Across the U.S., about 56% of the population, or 186.4 million people, had received at least one vaccine dose as of Tuesday, according to the latest numbers available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials said 161.6 million people have so far been fully vaccinated, amounting to about 49% of the population.
More than 34.1 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S. since the pandemic began, while Mexico has seen 2.6 million cases and Canada has reported 1.4 million cases, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. leads the world with the most coronavirus cases and the highest number of deaths. More than 609,500 people nationwide have died of the viral infection. In Mexico, officials have identified about 36,800 deaths related to COVID-19, while Canadian officials have identified 26,470 virus-related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
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