Beginning on Jan. 22, nonresident passengers crossing U.S. land borders, such as truck drivers, government, and emergency response personnel, would be required to be completely vaccinated, according to the administration.
According to a senior administration official, the requirement, which was first announced by the White House in October, aligns the rules for essential travelers with those that went into effect earlier this month for leisure travelers when the United States reopened its borders to fully vaccinated individuals.
Essential ferry passengers will be expected to be completely vaccinated by the same date, according to the authority. On the condition of anonymity, the official talked to The Associated Press ahead of the announcement.
Non-US citizens are subject to the rules. Citizens and permanent residents of the United States are still allowed to enter the country regardless of their vaccination status, but they will be subjected to additional testing because officials believe they are more likely to contract and spread COVID-19 and to encourage them to get vaccinated.
To avoid inconveniences, the Biden administration put back the requirement for essential passengers by more than two months from when it went into force on Nov. 8 for non-essential visits. This is especially important for truck drivers, who are critical to North American trade. Despite the fact that most cross-border traffic was shut down in the early days of the epidemic, necessary passengers were allowed to move freely.
Despite the delay, Norita Taylor, a spokeswoman for the trucking group Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, slammed the vaccination requirement, saying it was an example of “how unnecessary government mandates can drive experienced owner-operators and independent truckers out of business.”
“Another illustration of how unworkable policies will push safe drivers off the road is these restrictions,” she added.
Under an emergency order established by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the Biden administration intends to have major enterprises force their staff to be vaccinated or tested weekly by the end of the year. While the regulation is now being challenged in court, the White House has pushed companies to create their own rules in order to improve vaccination rates regardless of the government obligation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 47 million adults in the United States are still unvaccinated.