To the shock and dismay of millions of American tourists to Mexico, the border is closed-ish.
Extension of US-Mexico Border Closure
This week the White House extended border restrictions this week through Aug 21, 2021 across the Mexico and Canada land borders.
“To decrease the spread of Covid-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on nonessential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through August 21,” a spokesman for the department said in an email. “D. H. S. is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably.” – New York Times
Fully vaccinated Americans will be welcomed by Canada from August 9th, though the reduced travel restrictions at the northern border have not been matched by the US. For those who live in Mexico, crossing the border into the US via land and ferries has been closed since March of 2020 for nonessential travelers. Air travel has been possible for some time.
Wait, It Was Closed?
Don’t tell the hundreds of thousands of American travelers or the airlines that can add bottomless flights with impunity to Cancun, and Cabo that Mexico is closed for non-essential travel. They won’t believe you. I had friends and family that were recently in Puerto Vallarta and as you might suspect, the news that Mexico was closed to nonessential travel was shocking to them.
Even with the clarification that it is the US-Mexico land border that is closed and not the airports (which, of course, they already knew) – they couldn’t believe there was any qualifier at all. These travelers still have the antibodies from July of 2020 (frequently tested) and of course, complied with the regulations of both countries prior to arrival including the antigen or PCR tests needed for passing a US port of entry.
Admittedly, I too was shocked to learn that this was still the case for Mexico, though I knew it was for the border between the United States and Canada. Spirit Airlines seems to add a new city every other week with ten destinations and Cancún is among almost all of them. Spirit isn’t alone. US carriers across the board can’t add enough capacity to keep up with American demand for “essential” Mexican vacations.
In a practical sense, this policy does nothing to protect people. The variants (UK, South African strains, Delta, Lambda) are present in all three countries. The policy targets the poor who cannot afford to fly or those for which it is impractical (living in Brownsville, TX with family just miles away in Matamoros, Mexico.) For everyone else, welcome.
When Will The US-Mexico Border Open?
With vaccination rates increasing in all three countries, it seems plausible that a revision to the order could come at its expiry date (August 21st, 2021) or somewhere around that timeframe. In all likelihood, the policies have been in place and mostly unchanged since the start of the outbreak, long before its scope had been known, adequate methods of treatment were found, or the dissemination of vaccines. For example, the policy to test all travelers (including US citizens) upon entry to the United States regardless of vaccination status has remained, an effort many see little point in doing.
The Department of Homeland Security will see several key policy expirations in the coming weeks. The Canada restriction for vaccinated US travelers ends on August 9th, this pan-North American restriction is set to expire (unless renewed) on August 21st, and the mask mandate (for all travelers) on September 13th.
Speculation suggests that the US-Mexico border closure will be altered in some way around the August 21st, 2021 target date.
Rammed Cancún hotels and resorts show no signs that the US-Mexico border closed in March 2020 as it’s almost all non-essential travel. A contact of our family recently crossed into Mexico via car and intends to return in the same manner in about a month. Regardless of the execution of the order, the closure of the borders through August 21st remains intact by land and ferry.
What do you think? Should the US-Mexico border be reopened by land and ferry if air is permitted? Should they all be closed or opened regardless?