January 22 New Deadline for Essential, Non-Resident Border Crossers to Be Vaccinated

President Joe Biden announced a new deadline requiring all essential, non-resident travelers crossing at borders into the United States to be fully vaccinated by January 22, the Associated Press reported.

Essential non-resident travelers include workers such as truck drivers and government or emergency response officials who cross at U.S. land borders.

Essential travelers who enter the country by water borders via ferry must also be fully vaccinated by the same date, the official said. The official spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of their anonymity to preview the announcement.

The United States land borders of Mexico and Canada opened up earlier this month to non-essential travelers for the first time since they closed during the pandemic. However, individuals must be fully vaccinated to enter the country, regardless of their reasoning.

Citizens of the United States are still allowed to enter the country whether they are fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated or not at all. However, people can face additional hurdles requiring more testing to re-enter.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 196 million Americans are fully vaccinated and 36.6 million people have received the booster dose. Approximately 74 percent of the population age 5 and older have been fully vaccinated.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Joe Biden, White House, Address
A new deadline announced by the Biden administration requires all essential, non-resident travelers crossing at borders into the United States to be fully vaccinated by January 22. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the economy in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus on November 23, in Washington, D.C. Evan Vucci/AP Photo

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 U.S. reopened its borders to fully vaccinated individuals.

The Biden administration pushed 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.

The later deadline is beyond the point by which the Biden administration hopes to have large businesses require their employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly under an emergency regulation issued by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. That rule is now delayed by litigation, but the White House has encouraged businesses to implement their own mandates regardless of the federal requirement with the aim of boosting vaccination.

About 47 million adults in the U.S. remain unvaccinated, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.