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By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  international border crossing at San Ysidro, via U.S. Customs & Border Patrol

October 13, 2021 (Washington, D.C.) - The White House has announced an easing of COVID-related Title 19 travel restrictions along the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada. Starting next month, non-essential travel across borders will be permitted for travelers who are fully vaccinated. Essential travelers will have to show proof of vaccination starting in January.

“In alignment with the new international air travel system that will be implemented in November, we will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.  “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.”

The modifications to the Title 19 regulations will occur in two phases.  In November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin allowing fully vaccinated travelers from Mexico or Canada to enter the United States at land and ferry points of entry for non-essential reasons. Travelers will be required to have proof of vaccination.

Second, beginning in January 2022, DHS will require that all inbound foreign national travelers crossing U.S. land or ferry POEs – whether for essential or non-essential reasons – be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination. This approach will provide time for essential travelers such as truckers, students, and healthcare workers to get vaccinated.

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“This is good news for San Diego and good news for our friends and neighbors in Tijuana,” says Congresswoman Sara Jacobs in a press statement. “I’ve raised this issue with the Administration many times on behalf of my constituents in San Diego and Chula Vista, stressing the need for lifting Title 19 restrictions as soon as it could be done so safely.”

She adds, “I applaud the Biden Administration for taking this important step towards helping families and friends reunite and for resuming commerce and trade across the border. I know this is important news for so many small businesses in San Diego. Now, my office will be focused on making sure these next steps can be implemented safely and effectively. “This announcement also underscores the importance of expanding our vaccine distribution efforts to Mexico and countries around the world.”

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria traveled to Washington D.C. two weeks ago, where he met with White House staff, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s commissioner and other federal officials to urge an end to the travel restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.

"For far too long, the restrictions at our border separated families and devastated businesses that rely on cross-border commerce," Gloria said, 10 News reports.

"I want to thank Secretary Mayorkas and the entire Biden-Harris Administration for hearing our call and taking this action, which will allow families to be reunited, businesses to get back to a sense of normalcy, and our local economy to fully recover," he added. Gloria also thanked South Bay mayors and Vice-Chair of the County Board of Supervisors Nora Vargas for their partnership in the effort to lift the restrictions.


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