The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention capped off a whirlwind week of developments for North American travel on Friday, announcing that the U.S. would accept fully vaccinated travellers from Canada and Mexico who had received two doses from mixed vaccines once its land borders reopen in November.
As of November, the U.S. CDC said fully vaccinated Canadian and Mexican travellers with “any combination” of two doses of a vaccine approved either by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization will be “considered fully vaccinated.”
This includes Canadians who may have been immunized with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been approved by WHO despite not being authorized for emergency use by the FDA.
“Reopening to international visitors will provide a jolt to the economy and accelerate the return of travel-related jobs that were lost due to travel restrictions,” said Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO, in a statement.
“We applaud the administration for recognizing the value of international travel to our economy and our country, and for working to safely reopen our borders and reconnect America to the world.”
The move marks a step forward for tourism between Canada and the U.S., but American officials have urged the federal government to ease COVID-19 test requirements to cross Canadian borders. Travellers looking to enter the U.S. can do so with a rapid antigen test, which can see same-day results.
Rep. Brian Higgins, who represents New York’s 26th congressional district, previously told the Canadian Press that he would like to see the federal government do away with its molecular PCR COVID-19 test requirement, which costs travellers roughly $200 on average.
“I think that the U.S. decision to allow Canadians coming into the United States without a test again underscores the potency of the vaccine,” Higgins said. “I would like to see that reciprocated by our Canadian neighbours.”
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said that it’s possible for requirements to “evolve” based on advice from health officials, but that evidence has shown PCR tests to be an effective way of reducing the spread of COVID-19 at Canadian borders.
“The proof of vaccination, verification that is being put in place, as well as the utility of the negative PCR tests that we’ve also put in place — those measures have proven to be quite effective in protecting our communities and Canadians from the introduction of COVID at our borders,” he said on an episode of Global News’ The West Block.
“We’ll continue to learn from those lessons and modify our advice as appropriate. But in every case, we listen to the science. We listen to the advice of our public health agencies and we work very closely and collaboratively with our international partners.”
— With files from the Canadian Press