US to require vaccines for all border crossers in January
President Joe Biden will require essential, nonresident travelers crossing United States land borders, such as truck drivers, government and emergency response officials, to be fully vaccinated beginning on January 22, the administration planned to announce.
A senior administration official said the requirement, which the White House previewed in October, brings the rules for essential travelers in line with those that took effect earlier this month for leisure travelers, when the US reopened its borders to fully vaccinated individuals.
Essential travelers entering by ferry will also be required to be fully vaccinated by the same date, said the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The rules pertain to non-US nationals. American citizens and permanent residents may still enter the US regardless of their vaccination status, but face additional testing hurdles because officials believe they more easily contract and spread COVID-19 and in order to encourage them to get a shot.
The Biden administration pushed back the requirement for essential travelers by more than two months from when it went into effect on November 8 for non-essential visitors to prevent disruptions, particularly among truck drivers who are vital to North American trade. While most cross-border traffic was shut down in the earliest days of the pandemic, essential travelers have been able to transit unimpeded.
Even with the delay, though, Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for the trucking group Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, criticized the vaccine requirement, calling it an example of "how unnecessary government mandates can force experienced owner-operators and independent truckers out of business."