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Dec. 4, 2021

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U.S. expected to loosen border travel restrictions with Canada on Nov. 8


BELLINGHAM — Mark your calendars and remember, Whatcom County residents, you only have four more weekends to stock up at Costco and Trader Joe’s in Bellingham., BELLINGHAM — Mark your calendars and remember, Whatcom County residents, you only have four more weekends to stock up at Costco and Trader Joe’s in Bellingham.

The Canadians are coming!

The White House is expected to announce Friday, Oct. 15, that it will loosen travel restrictions that have been in place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and begin allowing fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the U.S. by land and air on Nov. 8, a White House official has stated. This will include allowing vaccinated Canadians to cross the land border between British Columbia and Whatcom County.

Reuters was the first to report the Nov. 8 reopening date.

White House Assistant Press Secretary Kevin Munoz later confirmed the Nov. 8 date to CNN, saying, “The US’ new travel policy that requires vaccination for foreign national travelers to the United States will begin on Nov 8. This announcement and date applies to both international air travel and land travel. This policy is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent.”

Late Friday, the Associated Press reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said “the U.S. will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those in use in the U.S. That means that the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted.”

The AP reported officials said “the CDC was still working to formalize procedures for admitting those who received doses of two different vaccines, as was fairly common in Canada.”

Nov. 8 will mark nearly 600 days — 597 to be exact — since the U.S. and Canada each closed their land borders to travel deemed non-essential on March 21, 2020, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 during early stages of the pandemic.

The border closure was originally scheduled to last a month, but each side independently extended the restrictions on a month-by-month basis. Trade and other essential travel was still allowed to occur during the closure.

Canada lifted its restrictions for vaccinated Americans in early August, putting pressure on the United States to open its borders, but the U.S. did not announce it would lift welcome vaccinated Canadian travelers until Tuesday, Oct. 12, though a specific date of when the border would reopen was not announced until Friday.

Area lawmakers, including state representatives and Gov. Jay Inslee, have been calling for the White House to loosen border restrictions on Canada for months to help border communities.

“This is great news for our border communities here in Washington state, especially for the people of Point Roberts who are almost entirely dependent on cross-border travel to sustain their local economy,” U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement emailed to The Bellingham Herald after Tuesday’s announcement. “After pushing for movement on this front for months, I’m glad to finally see the safe reopening of the US-Canada border.”