The US government on Wednesday extended the closure of the land borders with Canada and Mexico to non-essential travelers until at least Aug. 21, per the AP. The announcement by the Department of Homeland Security came two days after the Canadian government announced it would begin letting fully vaccinated US citizens into Canada on Aug. 9, and those from the rest of the world on Sept. 7. It's unclear how, or if, the US decision will affect the Canadian decision. People in both the US and Canada have been pushing for the reopening of the border to resume the flow of visitors and tourist dollars between the two countries. The US announcement notes vaccination levels have increased in both countries, where the CDC has lowered the COVID-19 risk level from "very high" to "high." Still, the risk of continued transmission between the countries "poses an ongoing 'specific threat to human life or national interests.'"
The decision drew immediate criticism from politicians from US border states. "It harms our small businesses and families, and does not follow the science," said New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican. North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum said Wednesday the border restrictions "have now crossed the line from precautionary to preposterous." The decision "won't substantially drive vaccination rates up, but it will continue to hold the economy down." The US Travel Association estimates that each month the border is closed costs $1.5 billion. Non-essential travel by land between the two countries has been restricted since March 2020, although Canadians have been able to fly into the US with a negative COVID-19 test. Homeland Security posted a separate announcement Monday restricting entry on the Mexican border. On the southern border, US citizens and legal permanent residents have been going back and forth with ease.
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